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I hope what follows is an appropriate question for this list. If not, please excuse me, and also please excuse me for cross-posting this question on the physhare list.
A bit of background: this question grows out of a consideration of students for graduation honors. Sometimes a teacher will say something like, "this student has the grades but he/she is not really an honor student." I always think, "why are we giving high grades to anyone but our most successful students?" Perhaps our vision of the attributes of student success are fuzzy, and we are rewarding something else with high grades. Before we worry about the nature of our tests and grading procedures, maybe we should be clearer about what it is, exactly, that we are trying to measure.
So, the question: what are the attributes of student success in our physics classes? After all, our students will do what they must to please us (I suppose we are lucky that way), so if we are not asking them to demonstrate the success we hope for, we should be clearer about what we want and then work toward that. As it happens, concern about this issue extends nearly everyone on the faculty at my school, and we will be working on this next year in our copious free time outside of class.
I would very much like to see this discussion on the list, but if people prefer to respond off-list I will summarize the responses for the list. Thank you all for your consideration.