Part of placing value on the process of learning means giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. As a result, retakes are an inevitable part of the process. For many teachers, especially those at larger schools, allowing students to retake assessments is not a philosophical problem, but a logistical one. While creating a whole new assessment has its own baggage, the process of re-learning and the scheduling of who will retake what and when can be overwhelming. To help streamline the entire process, I would like to share a simple strategy that anyone can replicate in a short amount of time, which I have found to help bring a bit of sanity to the organization of the retake process.
When I first started to allow retakes, my system had dramatic flaws. In fact, I am hesitant to even give it the courtesy of calling it a system. I simply told students to let me know when, what, and where they wanted to retake. One student might tell me this information in person while another would send me a message using our LMS. Sometimes the information they provided was incomplete and I would have to chase them down to confirm. Regardless, I would typically write this down somewhere or, even worse, leave it to my memory. This all started to quickly spiral out of control as I was bombarded with messages late at night or approached by students during random times throughout the school day. Each retake request required me to divert my attention from whatever I was doing in that moment so I could write myself a little reminder. To make matters worse, sometimes students would completely change the information they had previously given me and I would have to go back and edit whatever I had originally written down. All of this required the additional step of me generating little reminders to myself on top of the list of obligations and tasks that are a natural part of our profession. My system was designed to fail from the start and, eventually, it did. Something had to change.
After reading a bit about how others implemented their retake policies, I eventually came across a strategy that involved using Google Forms to generate a Reassessment Request Form. By using a specific Add-On within the form, all the student’s answers would be automatically emailed to the teacher in a nice and simplified way. This was exactly what I was looking for—basically a personal assistant to handle the grunge work of scheduling and identifying important information. With a little bit of tweaking to make it fit my needs, here is what I eventually started to do.
Compared to the lack of structure I had in place before, implementing this simple tool has helped me allocate my attention, time, and cognitive load to things higher on my priority list. I spend less time worrying about the logistics of the retake and more time focusing on helping my students better understand chemistry.
If you have your own retake policy, how do you go about actually executing it? Feel free to share any tips or tools that you think would be useful!