Tokens

Like Kate, I am using a token course currency this semester. I am pairing this with specifications grading, which is where I got the idea.

One twist from the usual recommendation—which I may come to regret—is that I am giving five tokens to my 100-level probability and statistics class and eight tokens to my 300-level real analysis class. The usual recommendation is between one to three tokens.

My reasoning for giving them so many tokens is that I have a reasonable number of assignments that students will need them for, and I want to give them plenty of chances to re-do material.

Here is a list of things that students can use tokens for (RATs are “Readiness Assurance Tests,” and come from Team-Based Learning):

• If you contact me before the deadline, you may trade 1 token to receive a 24-hour extension on one
Daily Homework assignment.
• If you contact me after the deadline, you may trade 2 tokens to receive a 24-hour extension on one
Daily Homework assignment.
• If you contact me before the deadline, you may trade 1 token to receive a 24-hour extension on one
Weekly Writing Homework assignment.
• If you contact me after the deadline, you may trade 2 tokens to receive a 24-hour extension on one
Weekly Writing Homework assignment.
• You may trade 1 token to resubmit a Weekly Writing Homework Assignment that does not need
specifications. The resubmission will be due the Wednesday the original submission.
• You may trade 1 token to resubmit a Challenge Problem that does not need specifications. There is
no deadline for the resubmission.
• If you contact me before the deadline, you may trade 2 tokens to receive a 24-hour extension on a quiz.
• If you contact me after the deadline, you may trade 4 tokens to receive a 24-hour extension on a quiz.
• If you contact me before the deadline, you may trade 1 token to receive a 24-hour extension on one Individual RAT.
• If you contact me after the deadline, you may trade 2 tokens to receive a 24-hour extension on one Individual RAT.

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2 Responses to “Tokens”

  1. thehabyss Says:

    I am intrigued by the idea of tokens. It seems like a number of teachers that I look up to and wish to emulate use tokens. I do have some questions, however.
    1) Is there any research around the use of tokens? What does it say/show?
    2) What things are tokens attempting to accomplish/alleviate/etc?
    3) What anecdotal evidence do people have about how successful tokens do (insert answer to number 2)?

    • bretbenesh Says:

      1. None that I know of.
      2. The idea is to help students take responsibility for what they do, while providing them with a safety net. With specifications grading, the idea is that you provide students with minimal requirements to get credit on an assignment—ideally the requirements should be such that students can judge for themselves whether they have been met—and then you grade only on those criteria.

      I like the specifications because it helps students learn how to write well (I view the specifications as a teaching tool), but you also want students to have tokens to fall back on for when they make mistakes (or have huge life things come up that get in the way of school).

      So it teaches them that they get second chances, but they shouldn’t waste them (unlike in my previous grading schemes, where there was never pressure to do well on any particular quiz).

      3. I used them in Calculus II two years ago to a small extent. They worked reasonable well, but they weren’t a huge part of the course. There were a couple of exceptions for students who, say, skipped the middle third of the semester and burned through all of their tokens. In this case, I made a special deal with those students so that they could still pass the course.

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