My first Mid-Term

by hamiltonmj1983

I just finished grading my first set of mid-term exams. I am teaching a New Testament Survey course at a local community college. This is the very first class I have taught, and therefore this was the very first mid-term I have ever written. I don’t know how to gauge if this test was a success or not.
First, let me describe my class. I have ten students (although only eight took the test; two are making it up due to influenza-related issues) taking a Tuesday night class from 6pm until 8:50pm. I would guess that four of them are second career students, meaning that they are age 40+ and work during the day while attending school at night. The rest of my students are traditional students, 18-20 years old and going to school full time. When I introduced myself to the class the very first night, I asked everyone why they were taking NT Survey, and the response was almost unanimous: “It was the only humanities elective I could fit into my schedule.” So there we have it! I have 10 students who don’t really care about the material, yet need to pass in order to graduate with their AA.
I wrote the test two weeks before the students took it. I took it myself to make sure the questions made sense,and I even made my wife go through the questions. I then had a study session with my students: New Testament Jeopardy. I used the EXACT same questions for Jeopardy that were on the exam, although I did not tell my students. I simply told them, “if we cover something in Jeopardy, it is fair game for the exam.” I also handed out a list of 6 essay questions, and told them them, “all of the essays on the exam are on this list, but not all of the essays on this list will be on the exam.”
The exam consisted of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, matching questions, and essay questions. I had offered up to 6 points of extra credit prior to the exam, and had two extra credit questions at the end of the exam worth 6 more points, for a total possible of 12 extra credit points (12%). I also curved the exam, giving all students the difference between the best grade in the class(prior to extra credit) and 100. The curve ended up being 4 points. This means that, if a student did allof the extra credit, for the maximum of 12 points, he or she could have scored an 84 on the exam and still made a 100%.
I was afraid that I had made my exam too easy, and after grading the exam I think that I may have. Outof 8 students, I had three A’s, one B, one C, and three F’s. The F’s weren’t just bad, but they were really bad, so I assume those students just decided to not study. I am still waiting on the two make-up exams to find out what the final breakdown looks like, but at the moment it is a slightly lop-sided inverted bellcurve.
What does this mean? Should I assume that the three F’s were just slackers? Assuming the other two pass, 30% of the class failed the exam. How does that reflect my teaching ability? How does that look when the administration makes the decision to renew my contract (or not)?

On the bright side, I want to say that I am very proud of my two students who, when given the opportunity to choose three essay questions out of the four listed on the exam, chose to explain one of Rudolph Bultmann’s theories (the rest skipped that essay).