Ungrading: Pedagogical Possibilities for Going Beyond the Grade - Shared screen with speaker view
My screen says we are recording now.
H e l l o, I’m Jess and I just spun off on the highway and I am FRAZZLED but man am I pumped for some sweet, sweet UNGRADING. No car accident can dampen my enthusiasm, y’all.
I'm so glad you're ok, Jess!!
Hello from snowy Colorado...
That’s a proper winter hat! :)
Hi! Emily from Baltimore, MD here
Tip: If you want to chat with everyone, be sure to change the "To" line to: All panelists and attendees
Hi everyone! We have a large group here from Oregon State University in Corvallis!
Excited to be here from the University of Virginia Contemplative Sciences Center!
Hi! Stacey from rainy Kentucky (and EKU)
Got it, thanks! Mike Wakefield, Keene State College, NH
Hey KK! Nice to see you virtually :)
Sarah Parrish, PSU New Hampshire!
Hello, hello from SUNY Oswego!
So excited to see people from all over the country in this webinar! If you have questions for the panelists, definitely head over to the Q&A and submit your questions.
Greetings from Chittenden VT
Good to see you all here!
Representing Roger Williams University in RI!
Hashtag is #ungrading for those on Twitter
Things no one tell you when you go in to student teach for the first time... the agony of grading "objectively"
When you chat, make sure you select all attendees if you want to share with everyone!
Thanks! I love reading my students' papers & hate putting a numeric value on them.
I am seeing a lot of stuff just addressed to panelists, and just want to make sure that’s what people mean to be doing. :)
Grades become even more complex and predatory when you think about the fact they are linked to GPA and financial aid. Good grades = more money to continue to go to school. Broken system.
Are all of you familiar to Masschelein & Simons; Tyson Lewis', Gert Biesta, etc. work on "public" education? Such ammunition or gentle powerful fodder for addressing these issues at admin/uni/institute levelsscholia = leisure; study as play; public as unqualified (or identified) "all"; "schooling as protected (from politics, economics, culture, social pressures, family, etc) exploration and engagement with/of "world"
I would love for my other co-conspirators to see this webinar - let us know if it is going to be posted somewhere - that I direct them too re education as a decolonize practice
funny how even digital programming "grades" inputs - systemic problems
This webinar is being recorded and will be posted! All registrants will get that link in a few days!
I love "The Unscholarly Use of Numbers in Our Assessment Practices: What Will Make Us Change? (2011) by Chris Rust. My favorite piece on that objectivity fallacy. #ungrading https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/ij-sotl/vol5/iss1/4/
Thank you! Excellent!
Anyone find that when approaching colleagues about ungrading they don't respond well to the notion that they are punishing or demoralizing students? I mean, I agree, but it sort of moralizes the issue in a way that results in an emotional response--defensiveness.
my colleagues think I’m nuts
When I have approached MYSELF I have been defensive because it is not pleasant to think about how I have punished/demoralized students, even if I have not meant to.
Travis, yes! I adjunct and tried to talk to FTF about this when I read Hacking Assessment. They felt like I was attacking them!
Well, luckily there's an established and growing body of research to draw on :)
So now I’m doing it secretly… I’m wondering what will happen when I’m found out…
Absolutely. Luckily, my dean is on the same page, so I let him take the moral high road in most situations. He can take the heat, I'm PT
A recording of this webinar will be available soon after the end, and captions will be up as soon as we can get them edited!
I was such a jerk to my students in the past with late policies, etc. This new way of trading has really caused me to rethink EVERYTHING I’ve done in the past. I feel badly for who I was but she didn’t know better.
I love self-assessment - just need to make sure we include those whose English is not the first language (or the only one) and here I really appreciate a focus on visual reporting - like video, or painting etc.
Yes, Sybil. I had lists of policies.
Same here, Sybil.
@Robin DeRosa - are you planning to share the chat file? Would love to have access to some of these comments and shares.
Trust is critical.
@robyn Yes, I think the chat will be available with the Zoom recording!
When Martha mentions feeling like she’s getting away with “doing less” I get that. Giving feedback is fun and not grueling like allotting points
The chat files will be included in the recording
Ha! Serious evaluative feedback is quite the task, a rewarding one though
Tough climb dealing with departmental policies, especially for adjuncts.
Can we get this link to the practitioner discussed
The three grading trajectories
I do get a bit annoyed when people claim I'm doing less, when in fact I'm working a lot more.
We will share resource doc at the end, and this chat will also be published.
Minimal grading is better, and yet our institution has just increased the number of grades by now having plus/minus for every letter grade. This is new for KSC
Martha brings up minimal grading & use that in addition to lowering the total amount of points things are worth. no more 100 pt papers
In talking with people about my current practices, I always personalize it to my own story as a teacher struggling to become better and more effective. When I started as a teacher, I started very traditionally because that’s what I thought I had to do. Eventually, it was a science teacher who told me my grading system was an incomprehensible Rube Goldberg machine, and that was when I began to recognize objectivity theatre and pull back bit by bit. It was a process. It still is.
Peter Elbow: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1011&context=eng_faculty_pubs
Even just dropping assignments from 10points to a scale of 4 has made a huge different.
I always make sure the total points possible in the class adds up to 100, so the grade is easy to calculate.
I've never used the points system because my schedule changes every semester depending on the topics my students choose - everything was always weighted
Happy to see non-TT faculty in the chat. It's good your schools help you feel comfortable enough to try these approaches. Precarity can be quite an obstacle
Specs grading: Linda Nilson
Yes, Travis. We have lots of non-TT folks in our learning community that works on Ungrading, and we’ve had lots of conversation about the privilege it takes to feel (or be) safe enough to take pedagogical risks.
Inspiring text for me - is this contract? - https://pioneerworks.org/publishing/jesse-ball-notes-on-my-dunce-cap/
Thank you so much, Martha!
Great intro - I'm looking forward to sharing these slides!
SURPRISES!! Yay! :)
Thanks everyone for the names and links!
I am so excited to implement this! To the extent that I can as an adjunct :)
Anyone doing this with Blackboard?
Blog from Cathie about the cool “Tackling a Wicked Problem” course: https://cathieleblanc.com/2019/05/10/what-is-tackling-a-wicked-problem/
Yes! Linda Nilson. Thank you. Can’t believe I blanked. :-|
Yes! Linda Nilson. Thank you. Can’t believe I blanked. :-|
PSU folks will talk about Moodle. That’s our Learning Management System. You may have a different LMS (Blackboard, Canvas, etc).
I’m trying to use Bb... with Google items embedded
Travis, Blackboard can do complete/incomplete per assignment.
I’ve used Blackboard and set all ungraded assignments as having 0 points with grade display as complete/incomplete. When complete, set student’s grade as 0/0 and the grade book displays a checkmark.
@Beth I am using zeroes and ones because I wanted a stop/go approach. I couldn't do that with only checkmarks.
@OnlineCrsLady uses ungrading in Canvas, Jennifer, and has blogged fairly extensively about it
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@Travis - ditto. I allow redos, so I set up assignments for unlimited submissions
I am wondering more and more about the idea of self assessment, and the idea that "students gave themselves the grade I would have given them anyway if I wasn't ungrading". I wonder if we aren't orchestrating more than we think sometimes...
hmmm…can you unpack that more, Karen?
I’m reminded of the classic Lisa Simpson episode when she panics and needs to be graded! :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h4GD2feZ8Q
Thank you Robin!
@Karen - I felt that so much this past semester. I'm now participating in early conversations about shifting our gen ed core to pass/fail.
To start getting buy-in from administration, start making evidence-based connections between grading and retention.
@Karen C — I try to not have a grade I would have given them anyway. It’s a hard leap to make in my brain, to really give that work over to them and only step in if they need me (and mostly only if they ask me to step in).
@Heather - pass/fail is definitely a better way to go
My students are obsessed with Laura and her approach to grading. Listen up, everyone!
As a GTA and adjunct I have used ungrading for quizzes (low stakes assignments) because those are the assessments I am allowed to design myself, but it has made a huge impact on student trust and risk taking in the class. They complete the assignment in small groups and are allowed to use books, internet, etc - this is a great way for me to try new types of lessons and teaching materials out as well
Robin, do you have any summer institutes that some of us can attend - since we could use this time for “professional development”? On Open Ed and Ungrading and such?
But I think you are right that we are having a huge influence, Karen. The key is to make sure we are pushing them but pushing them toward their own compass and not ours.
I mean with you collective?
Martha and I are teaching a track on Open Education at Digital Pedagogy Lab in Denver this Summer.
Is the information on your website?
Hi all--what I meant about "grade I would have given them anyway" is that I think many people think that students will all give themselves As if we let them self-assess. And that is not my experience. They are pretty honest with themselves and me about the work they're doing and their level of learning.
DPL Info: https://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/dpl-2020/. It will be amazing! Our track will definitely cover ungrading.
Laura, our mutual students mentioned that they love these reading worksheets
As I said above, I'm a really lucky adjunct because I teach in a gen ed program where we are explicitly encourages to take pedagogical risks - our dean and provosts are 100% on board with experimentation. But it did take time for me to feel absolutely comfortable in doing so.
We will be providing more resources at the end of the webinar.
I agree with @Karen and @Jesse. And yes, grades have lots of negative connotations. But there’s something in selling the idea to medical and pharmacy schools that the students and teacher have collectively come to the grade...
Every work situation is different, but when I was an adjunct, I turned most small assignments into completion-based ones (including drafts of papers), and I found it had a positive effect, as Sarah W. observed.
#Ungrading will be covered in our STEM-H track at the DPL too.
@Cathie - yes, I get that people have fears that students will give A's with self assess, and that is in fact, not the case. But I was wondering about the grades they do actually give themselves, and how we may subconsciously affect that somehow.
Use the Q&A if you have questions for the panelists and we will do our best!
Thank you Laura!
It's funny that we are reading pedagogical research, attending webinars, going out of our way to do our best work-- really basing our teaching methods on proven practices, yet there's still a kind of imposter syndrome present
Summer institutes BTW sound like a rollicking good time, @Robin…
Alanna Gillis has written about self-evaluated participation and reframing participation as skill building. Link to the article here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0092055X18798006?journalCode=tsoa
#Ungrading will be covered in our STEM-H track at the DPL too.
I LOVE “reducing anxiety for students” as a goal of pedagogy
Contract grading seems like it could increase the obsession with grades. maybe?
Makes me wonder if there is a difference between anxiety and obsession.
I had a professor that actually had us fill out our own contract in checklist form and turn it in for our final grade, basically calculating our own grade and signing it
I've yet to try the grading contract, my hesitation is that students will minimax it--seems to distract from the goal of intrinsic motivation. At the same time, my students crave more structure.
@Karen - that was what I noticed when I used contract grading
Susan Blum’s #Ungrading book will be coming out soon too…Jesse and I both have chapters…When it comes out, it’ll be here: https://wvupressonline.com/node/571
Just saw a webinar on bandwidth, I can see how reducing that anxiety and increasing transparency allows students to spend their cognitive resources on what we actually want them to be doing, in other words increases their available bandwidth
Thank you Matt!
Poke around in syllabi from Matt and Martha in our Interdisciplinary Studies program: https://colab.plymouthcreate.net/ids/ids-classes/
@Robin - I think very fine line between obsession and anxiety.
I am interested in the bandwidth notion! Makes good sense.
Agreed, Matt - I’m getting better at catching Ss earlier with late stuff or incomplete work. I hope this doesn’t end up with a massive pile of stuff during finals week. thus far, it’s only a few who I’m worried about
Jess is a hero!
Asao Inoue has a couple of (open!) books on “labor-based grading” (closely related to contract grading) that he developed as an antiracist way of assessing writing. His books are available here: https://wac.colostate.edu/books/perspectives/inoue/ AND here: https://wac.colostate.edu/books/perspectives/labor/ Hoping to read them this summer!
Thanks for that share, Kristen!! We will add to our resource list.
Love Asao Inoue books!
Poke around in our learning community’s emergent syllabus here: https://colab.plymouthcreate.net/cplc-season-1/cplc-syllabus-one/
I think this “not caring” but “caring” is an important way of describing this. She cares enough about her own learning to not care about grades.
love your spunky attitude about being graded by teachers, Jess
Jess is totally inspiring to me.
Good question, Jess. Have students internalized our professor’s expectations for them?
What a gift! I wish I would have been imparted this view of learning and grades at that point in my career. Thanks for sharing Jess!
YES and yes. Talking to students. What a revolutionary idea!
Right Karen? Who knew?
Yay bell hooks!!!!!
Hi Sean! Do you want to submit your question in the Q&A at the bottom of the screen? Panelists will be able to see and answer these questions easier than trackinig the chat!
The piece she quoted from: https://www.aaup.org/article/human-work-higher-education-pedagogy#.Xjy2SS2ZN24
Thanks, Rissa :)
No problem! I just didn't want it to disappear into the chat ether :)
I have had med students drop my class mid semester because they had an 89% and couldn’t stand the thought of having a B
And here’s great complement to Rissa, Karen Cangialosi’s “You Can’t Do That in a STEM Course”: https://hybridpedagogy.org/do-in-a-stem-course/
Sorry, forgot attendees: @Karen Last night in my ITW. For a half hour. More offline.
Another STEM voice here - I was drawn to it to reduce science anxiety in my gen ed course. So many worries about low grades by excellent students
Thanks for the plug Robin. :-)
My limited ungrading experience (also in Chem) totally echoes what Clarissa said: it wasn’t active learning that really made it clear that I cared about my students, it was ungrading!
The blog post Jesse is reading from: https://www.jessestommel.com/ungrading-an-faq/
YEAH @Beth! Love that you had a similar experience…
My best summary ungrading blog so far: https://www.chemedx.org/blog/ungrading-what-it-and-why-should-we-use-it
If all students said "I don't care what grade you give me" and that is replicated outside of school, -THAT would really shift things.
Welcome to the revolution.
That would be awesome, @Karen. Because that would mean that students have learned to assess their own learning in a powerful way…
As an adjunct, I have freedom to create rubrics, number of assignments, etc. So why not the freedom to ungrade? That’s what I asked myself this semester, so I jumped into the deep end without telling anyone. I’ve been building my research and background in case I’m asked, but I have yet to talk openly about it.
@Travis - yay revolution!
Just experienced this today - in a conversation about going to pass/fail in gen ed, a full time faculty member wrote *facepalm* - he does not teach the course.
There's still time to submit questions for the Q&A!
Laura Gibbs @OnlineCrsLady on twitter writes about ungrading a lot
I ungraded my online course and I thought asking students to keep a learning journal was helpful because it allowed for informal conversation.
I think the thing that pricks at me is the wonder of (and I'm - it feels - inherently FOR it) - what is the ideology or standpoint or biased perspective that PREFERS ungrading?
You can create meaningful relationships with students online. Discussions can actually unfold with more depth when students have the opportunity to all contribute.
@Nathan- can you clarify your question please?
what values / beliefs / social perspectives / politics underly the position of "ungrading"? And in what ways are promoting it... encroaching on other possibilities?
Have to scoot but this has been fabulous. Thank you all! :)
It's not the system that requires you to grade...it's those who administer the system.
@Robin -- you mentioned not talking about politics, which made me think about the Dunning-Kruger-in-Chief ... which makes me wonder if Dunning-Kruger plays a role in the versions of ungrading that have a self- or peer-assessment component. Any thoughts?
<cough @Jesse> BlackBoard Learn (tying learning to grades)
@Nathan- such a great question! I think that there may be different answers for many of us. I wrote a bit about this in my post, for me. That is has to do with taking down caste systems. https://karencang.net/teaching/a-special-kind-of-hell/
Martha has antennae coming out of her head.
But they’re lovely!
I like Martha's colorful light crown :)
RD you read my mind :) <3
@Nathan - but others probably bring other values and reasons for why they do ungrading.
<Robin making me laugh> The antennae match the bang…
@Karen. Thank you. I find myself mostly curious constantly about what is it that feeds my ideas (or ANY ideas) of what is "public good"
LOL. I didn’t even notice my crown. :-)
Lean into it, Martha!
LMS: “Learning is Management.” Block that metaphor
@Karen - (mostly assuming I might be blind to those instigations / experiencings)
What is learning systems for those of us who are not familiar with such a vocabulary?
Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Canvas are all learning management systems.
Learning Management System (LMS)= Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.
If you’re frustrated that we aren’t getting to your question, maybe use the Q&A instead of chat, since chat is moving really fast!
Thank you! A glossary might be helpful for some of us
I asked my students to "do me a solid" and hit the due dates this semester to help with my "grading" load. Some didn't make it and were surprised that I still wanted their work after the date passed. Yes, I still want you to learn!
Panelists: question coming: My question is how do you do this - ungrading- in a multi-cultural and multilingual community? Any suggestions? Also, what if we are not digitally savvy?Best practices to do it face to face? Again, not a solutioin but suggestions! Finally, parents and enculturated expectations of grading and success - how do we do this? Again, just best practices and/or suggestions… Please
+1 for glossary. I just learned tonight that I am "precarious" after 62+ semesters of adjunct teaching! #surprise
@Nathan- you are so right that it is important to consider what we mean by public good. I think it means the most good for the most people- what do you think?
et. al. I doubt "solutions" or "resolutions" or that any deferent options don't em-power some idea or another. Nothing wrong with casting one's vote / beingness with a perspective-on-life... but claiming that is a different thing. De-construction - so intimately tied with 'construction' - is still construction of Something, some 'idea', of what 'learning' is for a human, what 'schooling' is... etc. How do we open this? How do we co-participate?
"most good for most people" sounds suspiciously close to the 'democratic' (of the people, by the people, for the people' - power or rule-based idea) - I'm suspicious of "majority" perspectives.
@Nathan- I hope you write a post or article about all of that! There is so much in what you wrote there.
"public" - etymologically indicates - "available to general observation" - anyone who is present is part (egalitarianly)… "democratic" is a "majority" view - like 'scientific fact" - collective agreement - this is NOT egalitarian
@Nathan- also, I am suspicious of majority perspectives also. So maybe all good for ALL people? is that too utopian? In any case, we need to make sure we are including especially marginalized voices
YES Jesse! need to transform power relations
@Karen - how might we know when we are imposing ideas when we're co-equal species (it seems to me regardless of experience)?
Derrida told everyone they started with an A. Then he told them he was in the wrong class.
OMG, who is Derrida?
@Travis - sigh.
@Travis - argh!
We're always in the wrong class | where we simply (Heidegger) be-long
@Nathan- sigh. to be continued... this is a hard format to have this discussion
@Karen, thank you for discussing
I had a doctoral professor who also told us we all had an A on the first day—then said let’s get to the business of learning! This is where my thoughts began shifting to how do I do this with undergraduates.
Decolonial approach to education might be helpful for some of us. Thank you for this fantastic time@
This was awesome! Thank you!!!!
Thank you to all the panelists!
Thank you all so much!
I could cry with joy for these goodies
Thank you all so much!
Thank you thank you!!
Totally agree re: Decolonial approaches. I feel like they’re connected. Someone asked me the question (which shows up in my FAQ): is ungrading a decolonial practice. My answer is a tentative “yes” but it’s only a 3 paragraph answer so it doesn’t do the question any kind of justice.
thanks so much!
Thank you for the inspiration :)
Thank you all so much!
Thanks everyone! Cool stuff.
Its even snowy in Oklahoma!
Robin's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The question we didn’t have time to get to about how to do this if you’re less digitally inclined is important because we can easily fall into a certain tech-centric focus. But the practices and ideas of ungrading long predate the digital world. It’s about respecting students as human beings, wanting to change the power dynamics of education, thinking about how to be human.
Thanks, from a very old dog who loves new tricks