A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:
THE GRADING VORTEX
Lynne Belcher, Bill Murdick, Paula Gillespie, and Marcy Bauman all bring up some great stuff here. There seems to be a theme or set of themes -- or set of elements which have a theme I canšt define, but those elments seem to be: Desire, Motivation, Problem-solving, Empowerment -- basic Marketing philosophy: Find a need and fill it. Students needs are primarily social. That's where they are: the need for validation from peers and authority figures.
The failure of in-class editorial groups is that they are forced peer groups.
Yes, of course, they will need to learn to deal with forced peer groups in the work environment, but by explaining this to the students we are asking them to accept what they cannot see -- a forced work environment where a work environment does not exist. We have to design our classes in such a way that students will want to demonstrate their worth to peers and society.
We can't do that by defining their peers and relevant members of society for them. Rather, we must identify those peers and members of society currently relevant to our students and have them address problems they can contribute to the solving of. We can't all have Deans address classes of less than twenty students the way Paula did, but as Marcy said, it's quite obvious that grades offered little relevance or answer to students needs when held up to the opportunity to contribute to a real societal need with real peers -- in this case, defined as fellow students with the same need to make a tangible contribution; the need itself was the commonality.
See here, with us. Why are we compelled to write these notes? Why did Tim Mayers "emerge from a long period of 'lurking' and join in?" We feel we have something to say to people who will listen. We can, as Paula says, "replicate such a great experience for them," by using the Internet -- replicating our own rhetorical situations as generative or inventive experiences to inform the writing that is required to satisfy formalist bean-counters.