The pop quizzes and tests will be Term Identification tests: I will give you a list of terms selected from the “Key Terms” list at the end of each chapter, and you will write a short paragraph defining and explaining the importance of the term.
The answers I’m looking for have three important components:
- Definition: Basic information about what the person did or what the event involved or what the term means.
- Context: What country or region, what time period does this fit into? What else is happening around this term that’s important to know? What other people or events or concepts play a role?
- Significance: Why is this an important person or event or concept? What does this change about the world, and what comes after this that couldn’t have happened without it?
Definition alone, which is what you get if you memorize the textbook sidebar or a sentence or two from the text, gets you up to about a C. Context gets you to B-range. You need all three to make an A. (All of this assumes that you’re getting it right, of course.) You can get all that from the textbook, if you read it carefully, but it’s a lot easier if you listen to the lectures, too. Your answer on tests need not be limited to the material in a single chapter: many names and terms and processes will appear in multiple chapters; pop quizzes, on the other hand, will focus on the term as defined in the chapter assigned for that day.
I grade the individual questions on a 4-point scale: 4=A, 3=B, etc. On the tests, I then total those up and, taking the highest grade in the class as 100%, convert them back to a 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.