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Dennis OConnor

Crowdsourcing Grading: Follow-Up | HASTAC - 0 views

  • I believe every  dedicated, experienced, concerned teacher has at least one grading story to report that still is a source of concern long after (I'm changing details here but all are based on actual incidents and you can all fill in your painful anecdote here:  the brilliant, passionate, on-fire student who was dumped by his girlfriend the week before the final and didn't tell you until five years later that that's why he never turned in the final paper.   A+ mind, no final paper, mysterious and disturbing silence. Why? The intrusion of a broken heart, physical exhaustion, depression, an illness not diagnosed until later, a death in the family: How do you calculate the average of life's pains?  
  • Because I'm writing a book now on cognition and digitality, I have spent a lot of the last decade reading books and articles (probably not just dozens but hundreds) on assessment, evaluation, and grading. 
  • We also know that we, as teachers, fudge our evaluation of evaluations all the time.   We do not live in a perfect world and the drastic underfunding of teaching in the last decades has forced many a prof to make compromises that are anything but fair, respectable, or even defensible.
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  • Am I giving away state secrets when I suggest that there are some profs out there who, faced with 300 students in a course, with no TA or maybe only one or two, end up giving multiple choice or short-answer exams including in subjects where they would admit such exams are a travesty.
  • The point is that we know a grade is an artifical marker of a certain kind of performance under a certain set of circumstances.
  • It is quite clear to me that assessment in the forms now used in K-12 and in colleges and universities too is very much a product of the Machine Age. 
  • Suffice it to say that I'm blogging rapidly, from memory, but the basic point is that evaluation is vexed and ever-changing and often misapplied.
  • hat is how I feel about assigning grades in a conventional way (whatever that means!) in a class exploring new modes of  cognition and digitality.  The point of this course is to rethink our model of mind that has been handed down to us from the Machine Age and has about all the subtlety of that age.
  • That's what "This Is Your Brain on the Internet" is about.   I loved teaching the class last spring to an astonishing and wonderful group of Duke's ISIS students (ISIS stands for Information Science + Information Studies).  These students tend to major in wide-ranging subjects like Computer Science and French, or Engineering and Music, or Philosophy, Biological Anthropology, and English.  They deserve a prof who is as thoughtful and demanding and introspective about learning as they are.  Toffler's idea of "learning, unlearning, and relearning" is what this particular course promises and demands. 
    Crowdsourcing evaluation tools are build into Moodle forums.  I believe they are an option in D2L as well.  What kind of community of practice do we need to make this approach to grading beneficial?
Dennis OConnor

How To Crowdsource Grading | HASTAC - 1 views

  • What this teaches my students is responsibility, credibility, judgment, honesty, and how to offer good criticism to one's peers--and, in turn, how to receive it.
  • There will be no exams and no formal, final research papers required in this class.  Any student who would like to write a final research paper can pitch an idea to the class.  If accepted, the student will be invited to write the paper.   In all other cases, students will work together on a final, collaborative multimedia online project that will be made available on a public website, probably the HASTAC ( or the ISIS site
  • Grading and Evaluation.  After returning to teaching after several years as an administrator, I found grading to be the most outmoded, inconsequential, and irrelevant feature of teaching.  Thus for ISIS 120, S 2010, all students will receive the grade of A if they do all the work and their peers certify that they have done so in a satisfactory fashion.  If you choose not to do some of the assignments and receive a lower grade, thats permissible.  You will be given a chart at the beginning of the course with every assignment adding up to 100 points.  A conventional system will be assigned (95-100 points = A-, etc).  We total the scores at the end and you get the points youve achieved.  If, on any one assignment, peers rank the work unsatisfactory, you will either not be assigned any points for that assignment or you can submit a revised assignment in response to the class critique.  Revision and resubmission results in full points.  In other words, everyone who chooses to do the work to the satisfaction of his or her collaborative peers in the course will receive an A, but no one is required to do all of the work or to earn an A.  In lieu of a final exam, students will write an evaluation of the class (in addition to the university-required student evaluations).  This will emphasize what you learned in the class, what you feel you accomplished (with "accomplished" self-defined).  I will offer feedback on your self-assessment, amounting to an "evaluation" of your contribution to the experiences of, in Toffler's phrase "learning, unlearning, and relearning" that are central to "Your Brain on the Internet."   
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