Right now I’m in Denver, Colorado at the MAA’s annual Mathfest. Mathfest is fantastic, and every time I come I tell myself I should come back every year. Check out the Twitter hashtag #MAAthfest to see some of what’s going on.
I’m here to give to talks — one was yesterday and the other is this afternoon. Both are on the topic of non-traditional grading (or mastery grading), which I’ve written a lot about in the past. Here are copies of my slides:
- August 1st, 2018: Grading for Learning: A Standards-Based Approach from a Project NExT Panel on “Aligning Assessment with Course Goals”
- August 2nd, 2018: A Quick Summary of Four Years of Standards-Based Grading from the Contributed Paper Session on “Mastery Grading”
I think my take-away message of both presentations is the same, and it’s the following:
Kate’s Grading Philosophy: Grades should reflect student knowledge and should have a positive effect on student learning.
Standards-based grading is the way I’ve decided to build this philosophy into my courses. Since I’ve written about my implementation in the past, now I’ll describe something I want to do in the future.
I want to implement some kind of portfolio assignment for students to show off their homework solutions. I imagine letting each student pick her best/favorite solution for each course standard, and gathering them all up together, for an end-of-term “look at all the stuff I’ve learned!” binder. This project would fit into course grades as a “grade modifier” on top of a “base grade”. The base grade would come from performance on standards on normal assessments (exams, quizzes, etc) and would be a typical letter grade (A, B, C, …). The performance on the portfolio would modify a B-grade into B-, B, or B+, depending. My rationale for implementing this project is (a) to have the students work on a single thing throughout the term, with changes for feedback, revision, drafting; and (b) to motivate them to work on homework problems or even more difficult problems that aren’t necessarily accessible in an in-class assessment.
My fear is by doing this, I’m asking dozens of students to hand me dozens of problems to review, right at the time that the clock starts speeding up for me to get my final grades submitted. Also, this is probably going to be at the same time that I have to write and grade final exams, and also tackle all of the re-assessments that students are excited to tackle at the very and absolutely last second possible. Until I find some way to schedule my way out of a complete grading nightmare, my portfolio idea is going to be on hold.