February-March 2021

While very few teachers actually enjoy grading, until recently our acknowledgment of its difficulties has been limited to, say, differentiating between a B and a B+, or perhaps to debating institutional problems such as grade inflation. But increasingly, educational research is asking us to radically rethink why and how we grade. How can our grading practices be more inclusive of all learners, and more transparent to students? What does it mean for our grading to be “fair”? Will students even bother doing the work if we don’t use traditional grading methods? What other approaches — hybrid grading contracts, labor-based grading contracts, ungrading, specifications grading — have scholars from Elbow to Inoue proposed to try to ease the burden of grading on faculty, change the power dynamics of the classroom, and increase equity for students? Come read and explore with us this semester!

Session 1 (Feb. 12, 2021)–Starting Questions: Why do we grade? What does grading tell us?

Session 2 (Feb. 19, 2021)–Grading Better: Introduction to contract grading

Session 3 (Feb. 26, 2021)–Contract Grading, in the Writing Program and Beyond

Session 4 (Mar. 8, 2021–NOTE CHANGE TO A MONDAY FOR THIS FINAL SESSION)–Looking Farther Afield: Specs Grading and Ungrading

Also see our research/theory review on Equity in Writing Assessment, which also gives some samples for implementing alternative grading practices in your Writing Program courses.