Test 1 Results

Each question was worth up to 4 points, for a possible total of 40. The highest score in the class before extra credit, in both sections, was 31. For simplicity’s sake, I’m using 30 as the 100% score, so the grade scale works out like this:

Grade starts at distribution
A+ 30
A 28  10%
A- 27
B+ 25
B 22  20%
B- 20
C+ 18
C 15  35%
C- 13
D+ 11
D 8  25%
D- 6
F under 6  10%

If you answered 10 questions, but failed to answer two from each chapter, I took a 2 point penalty off your grade. (If you didn’t answer all 10 questions, I did not)

If you want to discuss your performance, and how you can improve it next time, feel free to come by my office hours. If you want to dispute your grade, feel free to do so in writing.

Here are a few samples of answers that earned the full 4 points (or 3.5, anyway):

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Something like a study guide

You can find some exemplars of good work from previous semesters here and here. You can also see a comparison of good answers with the textbook sidebar definitions, if you’re thinking of memorizing those short definitions (hint: it’s not a good idea!)

I grade the individual questions on a 4-point scale: 4=A, 3=B, etc. I then total those up and, taking the highest grade in the class as 100%, convert them back to a 4-point scale letter grade with pluses and minuses. I record that grade (on a hundred point scale, so F is still worth more than zero) as your grade on the test.

Liveblogging Grading: Essays (a brief note on sources) and Curves

I can tell the difference, most of the time, between an essay which directly tackles the primary sources and essays which use secondary sources Instead of looking at the originals. Nothing wrong with doing a little background reading — that’s what the textbook is for, after all — but the assignment doesn’t call for it, particularly. More importantly, while you may have written a clever and insightful essay based on these (and other) sources, if you don’t specifically address the primary source readings, you haven’t answered the question, which is reflected in your grade.

  • http://www.womenintheancientworld.com/hammurabilawcode.htm
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Islam
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_figures_in_the_Quran

The good news is that the grades for the essays got heavily curved: because there were more than 50 multiple choice questions, the high score there was 51.33; so on a 100-point scale, with multiple choice as 50%, there was little grade benefit from using the top score (I used 50). On the essays, the highest letter grade evaluation I gave was B+, so I used that as the 50 point mark, as follows

Grade points distribution
B+ 50
B 48.5 15%
B- 47
C+ 45
C 43.5 37.5%
C- 42
D+ 40
D 38.5 37.5%
D- 37
F 35 10%

This is, obviously, a substantial bonus. As a result, the median and average test scores in the end were in the C+ range for people who took the test.

Speaking of grade adjustments, remember that the “Overall Course Grade” on your tests is also normed by the top grade in class.

Grading Blogging: Last of the Multiple Choices

Aside from some confusion between Axum and Ghana, and between Sufi, Shiite and Sunni (more about that later), the questions people had the most trouble on were

  1. In order to maintain “Bread and Circuses” for the citizens of Rome, the Collosseum was the site of
    1. gladatorial contests
    2. children’s festivals
    3. baking competitions
    4. all of the above
  2. 1001 Arabian Nightsgets its title from
    1. the knights of the Crusades
    2. the story of Scheherazade
    3. the tradition of daylight fasting
    4. Buddhist folktales

The answer to Q54 was not (d), and while 1001 Nights may have some connection to global traditions, that’s not what it’s mostly about.

Also, to my surprise, over half of the class chose not to attempt the extra credit.

Grading Blogging: Catching Up

The earthquake last night interrupted the grading (and blogging) a bit, but here’s where we are this morning. I have one more page of Multiple Choice to grade, including the extra credit, then it’s off to the essays!

The fourth page question which surprised me the most (aside from the one I gave up on) was:

  1. Under Islamic rule, some other religions were
    1. dharma, considered lower forms of rebirth
    2. dhimmi, acceptable religions with scriptures
    3. dhows, forced to move to new lands
    4. diwali, used as slaves
    5. all of the above

I know foreign language terms can be daunting, but over half missed this, chosing mostly (a), followed by (e) and (d). (d) might almost be reasonable, if the term ‘diwali’ didn’t refer to a Hindu festival of light (and if (b) weren’t an option!).

I was also a bit surprised by how many people (almost 1/3rd) selected the name of a Christian kingdom in Africa as the rulers of the first Islamic empire.


Grading Blogging: Halfway Through Multiple Choice

The questions that seem to be the most challenging are the ones that ask for something very specific, but include an ‘all of the above’ option. For example:

  1. The ultimate goal of Upanishadic Hinduism is
    1. mercy, charity, and forgiveness of sin
    2. reincarnation as a king, emperor or higher being
    3. reunion of the soul with the Brahman of the universe
    4. all of the above
  1. While some religions have state support, and some have missionary movements, all religions seem to be spread by
    1. letter-writing
    2. trade
    3. warfare
    4. all of the above

The number of actual ‘all of the above’ answers is down this time, sorry.

Looking over the fourth page, I ditched a question: poor question design, honestly. Seemed clever when I wrote it, but it just doesn’t distinguish between right and wrong answers properly:

  1. The conquest of the Abbasids by the Seljuk Turks was
    1. good for the Islamic state
    2. bad for the Islamic state
    3. good for the state but bad for Islam
    4. good for Islam but bad for the state

In the early stages, it looks like the slavery question is giving people trouble. We’ll see how it comes out in the end.

Grading Blogging: Two pages down….

Here are the questions people had the most trouble with on the first two pages. On the last two, yes, the answer is NOT ‘all of the above’ but about half the class picked it anyway. On the Five Principles, the Statement of Faith and Charity were the two pillars most frequently missed; I always have trouble remembering the first one, myself.

  1. The square-sailed, rudder-steered boats of Chinese traders were called
    1. biryani
    2. djinni
    3. junks
    4. stupas
  2. Disease, privatization, new religions, political disruption and lack of military control all played a role in the end of
    1. the Byzantine empire
    2. the Han dynasty
    3. the Mauryan Empire
    4. the Umayyad dynasty
  1. Although Ashoka’s empire did not last long after his death, he still
    1. conquered to the very southern tip of India
    2. established diplomatic relations with China and the Umayyads
    3. helped spread Buddhism within and beyond India
    4. all of the above
  1. The goal of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path is to
    1. define a radical monotheism
    2. eliminate suffering by extinguishing desire
    3. promote social harmony by creating order
    4. all of the above


Test 1 Results

Here is the overall distribution of grades for the test as a whole. The high raw score in the class was a 94, so that was used as the 100% mark, and extra credit was added after the adjusted score was calculated. (Most people who did the extra credit got 2 points or more, by the way)

Level % of class
A 10%
B 14%
C 34%
D 28%
F 14%

Note: Now that I’ve given back the tests, if you weren’t in class (or took a make-up test today), you’ll have to come get your test from me. I won’t use additional class time tracking people down. I will bring the tests to class for the next day or two, to make it easier, though.
Another Note: I know that my handwriting isn’t always clear; I’m happy to translate if necessary. Sorry.

Athens Question Distribution and Successes

The grade distribution for the essay question was a fair distribution, but lower than I was hoping.

Grade %age
 A-level  5%
 B-level 10%
 C-level  25%
 D-level  45%
 F-level  15%

Quick and dirty interpretation of grades:

  • F: Nothing resembling an answer or even good information about the documents
  • D: Some information, but not an effective answer, because it never addresses values or one document isn’t addressed, or significant errors of fact
  • C: A real attempt to answer the question, addressing both documents. May be one-dimensional, shallow, or weak in one area.
  • B: Substantial discussion of both documents, mostly on point, with a reasonably well-supported conclusion
  • A: Detailed discussion of documents, careful consideration of context, strong conclusion.

Question: The Melian Dialogue and Funeral Oration are both critical sources in our understanding of Athens. What values does each portray Athens as having, and are they in conflict?

Here are some of the best answers from the test. Note that these are not necessarily perfect, but they did earn A-level or high B-level grades. (also, any typos or misspellings are probably my fault, not the student’s) Also note that all of these take the “conflicting” position, but there were also several well-done essays arguing that both documents pointed at sources of power for the state — conquest and citizenship — and noting that Athens, like many early states, did not treat all people equally even within its own borders.
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