Reflecting on Alternatives to Grading: Part 2

By Julia Brown

This workshop series wrapped up toward the end of March with two final workshops. One on Ungrading (in this case, the instructor feedback + student self-assessment model) and the other on Mastery Grading. Each workshop, like the previous two, was structured as a short introduction to the grading practice, followed by a discussion between the workshop attendees.

While the earlier contract grading workshop was based primarily on research done by faculty in the humanities, these two workshops featured grading practices that have been used in STEM classrooms of varying sizes and levels. Hearing how faculty envisioned these grading practices fitting with their own courses or assignments, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, was inspiring. We were able to discuss some of the concerns and limitations of these grading practices. Time and how long it might take to grade and prepare to grade with these systems was one of the main concerns, and is especially a consideration for adjunct faculty. We also discussed ways to work with the time that we have tome implement these grading models.

One take away from this series as a whole is that change can be incorporated slowly. You don’t need to rework an entire course to implement these grading practices. Changing one or two assignments per semester and building up a grading toolkit gradually is oftentimes more manageable. Perhaps a future iteration of these workshops can include collaborative toolkit building, so we can benefit even more from each other’s strengths.


“Mastery Based Grading”

Photo by on Unsplash

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