What to do with oddball answers…

27 Oct

Teachers, what do you do when you get odd answers?  I’m not talking about the ones that are waaaaay “out there”.  I mean the ones that attempted to answer the question but didn’t actually address what was being asked. 

For example:sample answer

If you are having a hard time reading this, the question reads, “What is bromothymol blue and what is its purpose in this lab?”  The student’s answer?  “because when its covered in vinegar (weak acid) it changes from blue to yellow”. (Note: this is not an actual picture of a student’s work.)

Firstly, the student never actually said what bromothymol blue is.  Secondly, it does indeed change color in this lab, but the student’s statement doesn’t explain why that is necessary.

Another example…

Question: “How could you and your partner work even more successfully together in this lab?”

Answer: “No.”

I think you get the point.  In these cases, I leave notes for the students and circle the parts of the question they either skipped over reading or misunderstood (like the “How” part of the previous question).  I talk with them verbally about it one-on-one. 

What do you do, though, when mistakes like this keep happening over and over and over?  Please share.

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