On Grading Algorithms
I finished grading the finals (graduate algorithms) before I left on vacation. Grading algorithms finals has its
- challenges: grading is not just checking "equality". A student might propose a solution different from the one you have in mind but equally valid. So you have to understand their idea, think about if it will work, check proof of correctness and make sure there are no bugs, etc. All time consuming tasks.
- surprises: a silent student in the classroom may show a spark in the finals. A regular class room participant may fumble solutions to easy problems.
- and, in this case, self-inflicted quirks: borrowing from someone (who? I don't now recall), I award 1/4th of the points on a question if a student simply writes "I Do Not Know".This rewards the students for knowing they do not know the solution, as well as cutting down on fluff a grader has to read through. How do students react to this? Some are professional, fill in "I Do Not Know" just before the time runs out, some are principled and never use this route, and yet others forget to use this route and regret it later.