I just finished grading a big stack of lab assignments (the class-D power amps and about the equivalent of 3 weeks worth of labs being redone). In this week’s lab reports, people were getting sloppy about their schematics again, and 80% of the class got an automatic redo for incorrect schematics. I think that this means a big stack of grading next weekend also, as I’ll have the last lab to grade and about two week’s worth of redone labs. Some of the redone stuff won’t come in until a week from Monday, so that might spread the load out a bit.
Some of the redone assignments were from seven weeks ago, and several were rather disappointing, as the students had not fixed any of the major errors pointed out on their first attempts. They’ll get one more chance to redo the assignments, but if they can’t fix them by Monday 2014 June 9, their grade for the assignment will become an F.
Next year I’m putting a 1-week time limit on a redo, so that students don’t procrastinate to the point where they forget what they did and lose their data. It’s not as if any of them had adequate lab notebooks to reconstruct their thinking or their designs from. If I wanted to be cruel, I’d make them write up a lab report at the end of the quarter for a lab they did in the first two weeks, using only the notes in their lab notebooks (that’s much more reflective of real-world practice than what they are currently doing, but probably everyone would fail).
Students can ask me (or each other) if they don’t understand something—not understanding something is fine, and correcting mistakes is a good way to learn something. But leaving unfixed bad computations or plots that have already been pointed out as incorrect (and that triggered the first redo) strikes me as incompetence as a student (and not just as an engineer). Did they think I’d be too tired to notice that the same mistakes were repeated? Granted, one group almost got away with that, because I forgot to check one of their component values on the second submission—it was still off by a factor of 1000 even though I’d pointed out the problem on the first draft—I caught the problem only when recording their grade on the redo and noticing my notes from the first reading.