How can we use end-of-the-quarter grading to help our students continue the learning process even after they’ve left our classrooms?
We often talk about grading solely as a form of evaluation and judgment without considering the various ways it can help students learn. As we near the end of the quarter, consider using grading as a tool to increase students’ critical awareness of their own learning process. End-of-the-quarter grading can be an important step in the learning process as we offer a final evaluation of student work that can illustrate to students what they have gained as learners and writers over ten weeks.
Activity Idea: Student Self-Assessment: Asking students to participate in your end-of-the-quarter assessment practices can offer an important opportunity for students to assess themselves and reflect on what skills they would like to work on in the future.
Today: On a note card, have your students anonymously write down one of their key accomplishments from the course, then have them circulate these amongst themselves. Have students share these accomplishments out loud and be sure to contribute your own feedback on what you perceive to be students’ key accomplishments for the quarter. This allows you to gauge what students are taking away from your course and will provide a forum for both student and teacher self-assessment. It also gives you as a class an opportunity to step back and take a comprehensive look at what you’ve studied over the quarter.
During Finals Week: As part of a final assignment, consider asking students to turn in a short reflective essay in which they discuss the progress of their writing over the quarter. Since you have had access to a quarter’s worth of work from your students, you can respond to their self-assessment by offering your perspective on patterns in their writing and triumphs that they have yet to notice in their learning. Try to respond to your students’ final projects and papers by offering students suggestions for the future and new goals that they can work toward in their upcoming coursework and continued education. Offering brief comments in addition to a letter grade can help validate your students’ efforts and show them what to work on in their future courses.
Long-term: Think about how student self-assessment can be worked into your course throughout an entire quarter. For example, after students receive grades on major course assignments, ask them to write a paragraph in response to your feedback on that assignment in order to further a dialogue between you and your students about your assessment techniques, their progress, and the learning goals of the course. This on-going dialogue throughout the quarter can help both students and teachers gain information about the learning process.
OSU Community Example: A GTA at OSU using student self-assessment in her writing course finds it extremely valuable. After students draft their final paper, she asks them to offer a grade for themselves using an instructor-designed rubric. After explaining to students that they are going to be required to put all of their critical thinking skills to the test by analyzing and grading one of their peers’ papers, the GTA then hands the students their own papers to grade. “I am always amazed at how seriously and thoughtfully they go about critically analyzing their own work,” she explains. “Half of their final score ends up coming from their own grade, while half of it (usually much higher than what they give themselves) comes from my own assessment.” Asking students to self-assess at the end of the quarter, she explains, “reinforces to my students that we are co-constructors of the course, meaning that I am learning from them just as much as they are learning from me.”
WAC Resources: Want to learn more about ‘grading to learn’? Check out Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson’s Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998). Walvoord and Johnson Anderson give practical advice to teachers about how to design courses with meaningful forms of assessment from the bottom up. Also, stay tuned for a new WAC wiki tool about assessment coming online in Summer 2009.
More Ways the WAC Team Can Help You:
See an archive of our past tip e-mails at: http://cstw.org/WAC/?cat=50. For more ideas about how you might implement writing to learn activities please contact us to schedule an individual consultation. To further our aim of facilitating dialogue about teaching writing, we offer workshops with faculty and graduate teaching associates that tackle issues involving the teaching of writing in various academic genres. We also can co-facilitate in-class presentations for your students, demonstrating innovative approaches to writing instruction and lending students strategies for overcoming challenges with assignments.
Let us know how we can help you plan for Fall Quarter over the summer. Contact us by phone (292-9650), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through our website (http://cstw.osu.edu/wac).
Lastly, we would like to thank all of you who worked with us during the 2008-2009 year. We learned a great deal from our partnerships this year, as we hope you gained something valuable from us.
Have a great summer,
The WAC Team,
Dr. Chris Manion, WAC Coordinator
Katie Linder, Women’s Studies
Lindsay DiCuirci, English
Vicki Daiello, Art Education
Julie Fox, Dance