Strategies to Offer Retests Without Doubling Your Workload

January 3, 2023

Strategies to Offer Retests Without Doubling Your Workload

How to use wrong answers to get right ones

Question From the Pivot Help Chat

Linda -

Midterms are coming and I’m worried about revisions. My school requires that I allow everyone to have a second chance at the test, but I don’t know how to do this. How can I allow students another chance at the assessment without doubling my workload?



Ideas to Give a Second-Chance Assessment... Without the Added Workload

Hi Steve-

Been there, done that! It’s always so difficult to meet the demands for extra time in class. Writing a new test was usually my last resort. I tried not to write a new version of something that I already deemed "successful". A second-chance can mean a lot of things, so check with your building admin to make sure they don’t require a brand new assessment.

If they allow for other means to get a second chance, consider these strategies:

#1. With Multiple Choice and Numeric questions, you can increase the attempts.

On any multiple-choice question or numeric question, you can increase the submissions. This will give your students another chance to answer the question with minimal work on your end. However, if possible in the platform, I recommend  you randomize the choice order before you assign the activity. This is just going to make it harder for your students to copy off of one another.

Pro Tip: In Pivot Interactives, if ySubmissions box blank, the students will have unlimited submissions.

#2: There’s a difference between “Wrong” and “Missing”

This really goes with open ended questions and graphs: sometimes, my students lose points because they are simply missing pieces from the rubric. Consider this scoring guide from this Pivot Interactives Introduction to Universal Gravitation activity:

Suggested Scoring:

1 pt for circumference column

1 pt for velocity column

1 pt for acceleration column

1 pt for 1/R² column

Guess what will happen? My students will include the circumference, velocity, and acceleration. But, they’ll be missing their 1/R² column. Is it wrong? Yes, but only due to omission. Maybe they didn’t know they needed it. So, I’ll just tell them: Hey, you’re missing your 1/R² column. Please add that. In Pivot Interactives, you can do this in the Feedback area of a question: feedback appears directly under your student’s work, so they’ll never lose it!  

Pro Tip: If the students have submitted their work, you will need to unsubmit their work in order for them to access it again and make corrections. You can use Bulk Actions to do this VERY fast.

#3. Consider doing Wrong Answer Analysis.

After each question, you can add an Open Ended Question that says:

“Correct the question above. Explain why your previous answer was incorrect. Explain why the new answer is correct. Your explanation cannot include ‘I was wrong,’  ‘I don’t know,’ or any other non-factual answer.”

Here’s how I used it:

I’m a student working on the Law of Conservation of Mass activity. I get to question 2 and I get it wrong. I say that Sandwiches are the reactant. So, my wrong answer analysis would be:  

The correct answer is Bread and Cheese. I answered Sandwich, which is the product of the “reaction”. Bread and cheese are used to make the sandwich (our product), so they are the reactants. Additionally, reactants appear to the left of the reaction symbol. In the reaction equation, 2 bread + 1 cheese --> 1 sandwich. Therefore, the items on the left are bread and cheese, which are my reactants.

Now – real talk – will my students' answers ever be that detailed? No. However, what I won’t accept is something like this:

The correct answer is Bread and Cheese. I answered Sandwich because I guessed. In the future, I should study more.

THAT answer...that answer doesn’t teach my students anything. It reinforces failure and explains away their actions. It doesn’t further their academic conversation, therefore it has no place in my room.  

Do I grade these answers harshly? No. I usually skim over them, looking out for non-answers and checking for further misconceptions.  

Pro Tip: When you’re grading in Grade by Question view, be sure to select the previous question and the correction together so that you can see the correct answer – no need to memorize an answer key!

Some other teacher tips:

Retesting shouldn’t be testing your sanity. At the end of the day, choose the method that saves time while also encouraging growth in your students.  

I did these strategies in lieu of a retest. I usually gave back up to ½ of the lost points. Students did complain about this to begin with because it's a lot of work, but they see the value after a few assignments. I just allowed them to complain and said “I hear your frustrations; however, this is the option I’m presenting. This is aligned with pedagogical research and my time availability. You always have the option to not complete the work: this is optional and will only improve your grade. So, if you’re satisfied with your original score, you don’t have to do this. But, I will not be making other activities for this event.”  

Another thing you can do that can be easier to grade: make a beautifully wrong answer assignment. This can be easier to grade and really do some wonders for your class discussions. Everyone will use this answer set for analysis.  

  1. Take a mix of everyone's wrong answers. Pick your favorite wrong answers as you're grading and compile them into one document or write some new ones with common themes that you want everyone to see.
  1. Then, give the students the scoring guide in the same way you get it (paste it under each question), except with no marks.  
  1. It will be the student's job to grade the wrong answer assignment. The student needs to grade each question and justify the grade.  
  1. Looking for an in-class discussion as well? Have the students discuss their justifications and allow them to argue points that they don't agree on. (It's a great way to teach students how to have a civil disagreement.)  

By the end of the activity, students will have a better understanding of not only the content, but the grading process. It demystifies the act of grading; it's also wonderful because you can show them how much time it took them to grade ONE paper and have them multiply that out by however many papers you have to grade. (Kinda gets them off your back about grading times.)  

Retesting shouldn’t be testing your sanity. At the end of the day, choose the method that saves time while also encouraging growth in your students.  

Many well wishes!


PS: If you have teaching questions that you would like answered, let us know in the chat – we love to talk about teaching strategies with Pivot Interactives.