I’m starting to think that grading doesn’t just suck, but is actually damaging. I don’t have a well thought-out idea here, but I would really love to get away from grades somehow, or do grading differently. Here’s how I think it’s damaging. Most students focus on the grade, even those that say they don’t, the grade is a form of feedback that tells them how well they did, so they take something from it. So students can be either crushed because they internalize what a grade says about their ability (mea culpa) or they can become overly confident cause they follow the letter of the assignment but not the spirit. Later, they get crushed. Worse, they might not learn the material.
I am blessed with students who, honestly, I think, would do the work without the grade. If everyone made it through the class, could I just give them all A’s? Doesn’t seem quite fair when you look at it that way, because some people might do just the bare minimum and others would go beyond. It seems like those who do more should be rewarded in some way. And this is my main struggle. How do I reward those who don’t just check the boxes, who think outside those boxes? And how do I encourage everyone to want to do that? The idea is, I guess, to give As to those who go above and beyond. What I find, though, is that there’s a bit of an expectation to get an A for checking the boxes.
And what it might boil down to is that grades aren’t enough for some students, and they’re discouraging for others. And it’s definitely discouraging for me.
The thing is, I like giving feedback. I write all kinds of things on my students’ work. I just wish I didn’t have to attach a grade to it. Some I’m in search of two things: a better way to motivate my students to do their best work and a new way of providing good feedback on work they do.