P726: Changing the stakes: In-class quizzes versus optional homework as checkpoint assessments
A challenge in assessing student performance is balancing high-stakes exams with low-stakes practice opportunities. To this end, we have employed several strategies in an organic chemistry course sequence. A “medium-stakes” open-homework-notebook, in-class quiz has been used in a section of the course where students face dismissal for achieving less than a C-. The average enrollment in this section was 32 students over four semesters with an average of 1 student each semester achieving below a C-. Given this success, the same types of assessments were given to two concurrent sections of approximately 115 students. This cohort did not face dismissal if they were to receive below a C- in the course and an average of 29 students per section achieved a grade below C-. In the subsequent offering of the larger enrollment course, the in-class quiz was replaced with a completely optional homework assignment given as a check-point assessment. Students who completed the majority of the optional assignments achieved an average of 80% on the exams, versus 70% for those who completed less than half of the assignments. Experiences, observations, and implications for student motivation and performance will be discussed.