Is the gradeless classroom possible? I certainly would never have thought so a few years back, and I’m still not entirely convinced. 

The longer I’ve been teaching writing, however, the longer I’ve contemplated the inadequacy of a grading system to evaluate and assess. Rubrics are – forgive me – not designed to foster creativity and though a single-point “rubric” can help identify key areas of focus, too detailed a rubric only leads to overly structured, unimaginative, cookie-cutter writing that lacks voice and authenticity and any sense of joy.

To me, that’s not writing.

To be fair, sometimes students need that detailed structure. The five paragraph essay in elementary school is training ground for developing a sense of how things fit together. What I’m after though, with college students, is a narrative that they use to help explore and make sense of the world, and share that broadly with a larger audience.

And that doesn’t lend itself well to systematic grading. 

Not everyone agrees with me. That’s okay.

But this year, I decided to have communications students self assess for the first half of the semester. I’ve written about this before but now this week I’ve had an opportunity to see the results.

But that’s my next post! Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Gradeless

  1. I’m going my first round of “gradeless” but am now calling it negotiated grading. It will be interesting to see what you think. I like the idea but my process has areas for improvement. Hopefully I will have time to blog about it between grade negotiations.

    • I have done a version of that as well. I weave philosophically between the two….so much discussion to be had about the advantages (or disadvantages) of both…

  2. Pingback: Gradeless – part 2 – Out-of-Office Hours

  3. Pingback: Fostering Intercultural Relationships – Out-of-Office Hours

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