Management of Student Expectations around SAM and the Grading engine

Ralph Hooper, Austin Community College

Many instructors choose MindTap Collections, or SAM, because they believe it will simplify their lives. It offers useful features such as automatic grading, instant feedback, and remediation tools. Although this is true, some students may be hesitant if they feel that SAM is incorrectly grading something. Your students will benefit most from your positive attitude regarding the value SAM provides. You should expect that SAM will help you teach by handling many of the mundane tasks.
Start to set the tone for student interaction with SAM each semester in your first class meeting.

Explaining how SAM works to your students
SAM precisely, unambiguously compares student response to correct response. This is a great place to introduce algorithms. This will allow students to learn how to follow instructions and understand the workings of SAM.
SAM offers multiple review and answer opportunities in addition to the assignment grade. It provides remediation guidance, conformance with submission guidelines, rapid response and exam replay of missed exam questions for instructors to review.
SAM allows you to focus on other important aspects of the student-instructor interaction. These crucial tasks could be left unassigned if you were to do it all by yourself. This support can include providing an example that addresses a student’s difficulty understanding a concept, dealing directly with scheduling conflicts or medical issues, listening to student’s needs and making compassionate adjustments, or being the mentors we need to be. We can do our jobs better as instructors by learning more about SAM and letting it handle these tasks.

Teach Your Students How To Use SAM
Refer students to all Cengage videos, tutorials, and documents that explain how to use SAM. These materials are worth studying!
Students should be aware that they must complete the “Apply” portion for credit for any training assignment. Optional modes such as “Observe” or “Practice” can be used to train and teach on each task. They are available to students at any time. For alternative routes, such as the ribbon, keyboard shortcuts and steps for students who use a MAC, direct students to the Guide.
Students should be able to understand the relationship between training and exams. This will ensure that they spend enough time training before taking the exam. You can show students how to review their exam results to find out what they did wrong with any missed questions. Ask students to set up a Zoom session or appointment to discuss their missed tasks if they need further explanation.
Explain clearly that the SAM assignments’ exam and training portions simulate Office applications. They can be completed on any computer without the Office application installed. They must use the Office application to complete SAM Projects.
It is important to communicate with students your expectations that they do their work independently and only submit projects that were created within their accounts. Students will be able to see what happens if they submit a project file with an incorrect file name (rejection) and a project file that originated from a different SAM account (“incident report”).

SAM and Academic Integrity: Explaining
People often use the phrase “cheating detection” when discussing the benefits of SAM. For several reasons, I don’t like the term cheating. It implies intent on the part the accused. It is important to be cautious when we assume what others are planning to do. This phrase can lead to an increase in the situation. I prefer to include in my syllabus a section explaining how a student can earn “0” on an assignment.
Take, for example:
Any SAM project that is:
Not submitted by the deadline
All questions incorrectly answered.
Correctly completed, or partially completed, but a save operation wasn’t performed. This results in the submission a copy the start file
This did not originate in the student’s SAM account
This method places any attempts at using another’s start files in the same category as other things that, although innocent, still resulted in the same grade. The desired result is achieved (a grade 0 and the chance to discuss the grade in person with a willing student), without making accusations or escalating matters.

Examples of Assignments with SAM Grades
Here are some examples of what students might do and how they might be able to help.