A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:
THE GRADING VORTEX
Just had to speak up on the grading issue. I turned primary grading
responsibility over to students about ten years ago. There were
- Philosophy. Piaget said so. One of the higher stages of
learning, if I recall, is self evaluation. So why shouldn't we shoot
for the highest?
- Reality. Students graded themselves anyway. Anytime they receive
a surprise grade, they say "Old so&so gave me a C!" Which implies,
of course, that they would have given themselves something else,
which means that they had already "graded" themselves. I merely ask
them to tell me first.
- Practicality. As a writer of everything from articles to poems to
e-mail to committee reports, I have to self monitor. I can't wait
for an evaluation and then go on. Student writers have to develop
this metat-cognitive awareness, too.
- Learning. I reasoned, as Eric has, that grades cause desperation,
which causes cheating. A grade-free system promotes learning.
- Process. If writing is truly a process, then students have to
have the freedom to work through drafts as they see fit. Sometimes
this means a single draft; sometimes it means dozens of drafts.
Other times, it means discarding a draft of "unworthy" or "undoable."
In a final self evaluation, students analyze each of their portfolio
pieces, putting a number grade on each piece. When I read the
portfolios, I score the pieces one at a time, saving the self
evaluation for last. Then I compare my scores. In the last five
years, 96% of student-applied numbers have been within 3 points of my
own numbers. When there's a greater discrepancy, the self evaluation
explains to me their position; they're usually so sensible that I go
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