December 18th, 2020

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Grading Large Classes

There has been questions in our 130 student team taught class about grading.  We each designed and graded the projects for our own topic areas but this lead to an inconsistent grading experience for students.  We agreed to think about a more consistent system.

Research on grading large classes


No Grades just reflections

  1. Only receiving feedback increases student learning. The same study has been repeated over and over again: students who only receive feedback on an assignment (rather than only a grade or both a grade and feedback) make the greatest improvement in their learning. Grades end learning opportunities by essentially saying “this is done”. Feedback continues the conversation. (See, e.g., Marshall 1968, Teaching without Grades; Pulfrey, et al 2011, “Why grades engender performance-avoidance goals”)

  2. Self-evaluation and self-reflection improve student learning. Self-evaluation and reflection promote ownership of one’s own learning and therefore assist in an individual’s development into a self-regulated learner who will be capable of learning and honestly evaluating themselves for their entire life. Reflection also encourages recognizing how the educational experience is changing you as a person. Self-evaluation and reflection can be done in a graded classroom, but is more significant in a gradeless classroom. (See, e.g., Grolnick & Ryan 1987, “Autonomy in children’s learning”; Kaplan, et al (eds) 2013, Using Reflection and Metacognition to Improve Student Learning)

Pandemic Grading focus on fast feedback

Link Your Assessments With Your Goals: Once you know who you want your students to become, then the concept of assessment can actually make sense — you’re measuring whether they begin to embody the course goals. The only way you will know whether they are becoming more creative, inquisitive, and self-motivated is if you intentionally investigate. Want to see if your students are becoming more self-reflective? Have students write about the source of their moral values at the beginning of the course and at the end, gradually making reflection assignments more rigorous throughout the semester. Want to know whether your students are becoming more selfless? Have them volunteer for a video-tutoring service, recording their experiences in a personal growth journal. Don’t let the typical forms of assessment keep you from accomplishing your goals for your students. Quizzes and tests are effective at discovering whether students learned discrete facts, but they are not very useful for investigating whether students have gained certain abilities. Allow your goals to shape your assessments, and your students will find more purpose in those assessments as well.

How to apply to AET 315 -
Add WHY? Explaination to each activity and assignment
Have method for individual and group student reflections.
Model reflections by faculty using student feedback from Instapoll

Focus On Measuring Student Transformation: Pedagogy specialists often distinguish between summative assessment, the type of grading that occurs at the end of a unit or the end of a course, and formative assessment, the kinds of feedback you give throughout the learning process. Even though summative assessment is the most prevalent, it may not be the sort of assessment most strongly linked with student learning. Formative assessments provide interventions before the semester ends, a time when students still have a chance to further develop the skills that you want them to acquire. Think of formative assessment like coaching. If you want your students to develop perseverance, the most helpful time to check in is routinely throughout the semester, assessing their growth and giving feedback on how they can take the next step. If you want your students to become more empathetic and understanding, have them lead discussion and coach them on how to ask questions that help them understand the views of others. If you want them to become self-driven learners, schedule some less structured research time, giving them benchmarks to meet as they further explore their favorite parts of a course.

Sample Assignment

How to apply to AET 315 -
One teacher in each breakout room activity with student to give feedback.
Set expectation that the teacher is in breakout room as a consultant, not evaluator.
Plan feedback sessions - possibly on Discord

Specs Grading with Bundles

How to apply to AET315
Specs grading with bundles is pretty much a rubric but with the emphasis placed on the student evaluating
1 - what they want to commit to doing ahead of time
2 - how to balance effort with grade reward
Takes less responsibility for micro point assignments by teacher
Question - How do we include aesthetics in the Specifications?

Teaching Large Classes Harvard educator's advice Ted Ladd