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Meghan Cureton

The Case Against Grades (##) - Alfie Kohn - 2 views

  • Collecting information doesn’t require tests, and sharing that information doesn’t require grades.  In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.
  • As I’ve reported elsewhere (Kohn, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c), when students from elementary school to college who are led to focus on grades are compared with those who aren’t, the results support three robust conclusions:
  • Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
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  • Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
  • Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. 
  • For example, a grade-oriented environment is associated with increased levels of cheating (Anderman and Murdock, 2007), grades (whether or not accompanied by comments) promote a fear of failure even in high-achieving students (Pulfrey et al., 2011), and the elimination of grades (in favor of a pass/fail system) produces substantial benefits with no apparent disadvantages in medical school (White and Fantone, 2010).
  • Extrinsic motivation, which includes a desire to get better grades, is not only different from, but often undermines, intrinsic motivation, a desire to learn for its own sake (Kohn 1999a). 
  • Achievement:  Two educational psychologists pointed out that “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence” (Maehr and Midgley, 1996, p. 7). 
  • There is certainly value in assessing the quality of learning and teaching, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessary, or even possible, to measure those things — that is, to turn them into numbers.  Indeed, “measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning” (McNeil, 1986, p. xviii)
  • Once we’re compelled to focus only on what can be reduced to numbers, such as how many grammatical errors are present in a composition or how many mathematical algorithms have been committed to memory, thinking has been severely compromised.  And that is exactly what happens when we try to fit learning into a four- or five- or (heaven help us) 100-point scale.
  • Portfolios, for example, can be constructive if they replace grades rather than being used to yield them.  They offer a way to thoughtfully gather a variety of meaningful examples of learning for the students to review.  But what’s the point, “if instruction is dominated by worksheets so that every portfolio looks the same”? (Neill et al. 1995, p. 4).
  • It’s not enough to replace letters or numbers with labels (“exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” and so on).  If you’re sorting students into four or five piles, you’re still grading them.  Rubrics typically include numbers as well as labels, which is only one of several reasons they merit our skepticism (Wilson, 2006; Kohn, 2006).
  • It’s not enough to disseminate grades more efficiently — for example, by posting them on-line.  There is a growing technology, as the late Gerald Bracey once remarked, “that permits us to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn’t be doing at all” (quoted in Mathews, 2006).  In fact, posting grades on-line is a significant step backward because it enhances the salience of those grades and therefore their destructive effects on learning.
  • It’s not enough to add narrative reports.  “When comments and grades coexist, the comments are written to justify the grade” (Wilson, 2009, p. 60).  Teachers report that students, for their part, often just turn to the grade and ignore the comment, but “when there’s only a comment, they read it,”
  • It’s not enough to use “standards-based” grading.
  • Sometimes it’s only after grading has ended that we realize just how harmful it’s been.
  • To address one common fear, the graduates of grade-free high schools are indeed accepted by selective private colleges and large public universities — on the basis of narrative reports and detailed descriptions of the curriculum (as well as recommendations, essays, and interviews), which collectively offer a fuller picture of the applicant than does a grade-point average.  Moreover, these schools point out that their students are often more motivated and proficient learners, thus better prepared for college, than their counterparts at traditional schools who have been preoccupied with grades.
  • Even when administrators aren’t ready to abandon traditional report cards, individual teachers can help to rescue learning in their own classrooms with a two-pronged strategy to “neuter grades,” as one teacher described it.  First, they can stop putting letter or number grades on individual assignments and instead offer only qualitative feedback.
  • Second, although teachers may be required to submit a final grade, there’s no requirement for them to decide unilaterally what that grade will be.  Thus, students can be invited to participate in that process either as a negotiation (such that the teacher has the final say) or by simply permitting students to grade themselves.
  • Without grades, “I think my relationships with students are better,” Drier says.  “Their writing improves more quickly and the things they learn stay with them longer.
  • Drier’s final grades are based on students’ written self-assessments, which, in turn, are based on their review of items in their portfolios. 
  • A key element of authentic assessment for these and other teachers is the opportunity for students to help design the assessment and reflect on its purposes — individually and as a class. 
  • Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world” — unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.  Nor are Grades a necessary part of schooling, any more than paddling or taking extended dictation could be described that way.  Still, it takes courage to do right by kids in an era when the quantitative matters more than the qualitative, when meeting (someone else’s) standards counts for more than exploring ideas, and when anything “rigorous” is automatically assumed to be valuable.  We have to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, which in this case means asking not how to improve Grades but how to jettison them once and for all.
  •  
    HT @tedwards
Meghan Cureton

NAIS - One School's Approach to Equitable Grading - 1 views

  • a student’s grade could be more reflective of the teacher’s approach to grading than the student’s academic performance.
  • because many of the teachers’ grading practices rewarded or punished students for every assignment, activity, and behavior in the classroom, students often were less willing to take risks and make mistakes, and cared less about learning
  • But Previna didn’t blame the teachers. After all, none of them—herself included—had ever received any training or support with how to grade
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  • She started by sharing a few articles about the weaknesses of common grading practices with the entire middle school faculty
  • Then she invited all faculty to research, examine, and imagine ways to align grading to their vision for progressive and equitable education
  • first learned how many common grading practices were created during the Industrial Revolution and are based on century-old beliefs about teaching, learning, and human potential that have long since been debunked. By continuing to use these practices, we contradict our current understanding about effective teaching and learning
  • After studying the research about grading and learning about research-supported grading practices that are more accurate, more bias-resistant, and develop intrinsic motivation in students, the pilot group of middle school faculty members was excited to start using them. These more equitable practices included using alternatives to the 0–100 scale, not including behavior in the grade, ending extra credit, using rubrics, and developing a culture of retakes and redos
  • Students were less stressed, and classroom environments felt more relaxed and supportive of learning.
  • Grade inflation decreased
  • Grades are more accurate and less biased
  • Students’ motivation increased
  • Changes to grading practices leverage other aspects of programmatic reimagining
Meghan Cureton

Why I Don't Grade | Jesse Stommel - 2 views

  • grades are the biggest and most insidious obstacle to education.
  • Agency, dialogue, self-actualization, and social justice are not possible in a hierarchical system that pits teachers against students and encourages competition by ranking students against one another.
  • Certainly, metacognition, and the ability to self-assess, must be developed, but I see it as one of the most important skills we can teach in any educational environment.
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  • You should consider this course a “busy-work-free zone.” If an assignment does not feel productive, we can find ways to modify, remix, or repurpose the instructions.
  • I find it strange that teachers and institutions would pre-determine outcomes before students even arrive upon the scene.
  • As educators, we have helped build (or are complicit in) a system that creates a great deal of pressure around grades. We shouldn't blame (or worse, degrade) students for the failures of that system.
  • Authentic feedback (and evaluation) means honoring subjectivity and requires that we show up as our full selves, both teachers and learners, to the work of education. Grades can't be “normed” if we recognize the complexity of learners and learning contexts. Bias can't be accounted for unless we acknowledge it.
  • Because I put myself outside of the grading loop, I can focus all my efforts on feedback and encouragement — on teaching, not grading.” Which leads me to wonder whether “graded participation” is actually an oxymoron. We can't participate authentically, can't dialogue, without first disrupting the power dynamics of grading.
  • Research shows three reliable effects when students are graded: They tend to think less deeply, avoid taking risks, and lose interest in the learning itself.”
  • “There is an extreme mismatch between what we value and how we count.”
  • a mixture of things assessed and a mixture of kinds of assessment, because the work of being a doctor (or engineer, sociologist, teacher, etc.) is sufficiently complex that any one system of measurement or indicator of supposed mastery will necessarily fail.
  • “When the how’s of assessment preoccupy us, they tend to chase the why’s back into the shadows.” Grades are not something we should have ever allowed to be naturalized. Assessment should be, by its nature, an open question.
Jim Tiffin Jr

Feedback In Lieu of Grades - LiveBinder HT @JoyKirr - 0 views

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    Joy Kirr's incredible collection of inquiry/research around feedback as a replacement for research.
Meghan Cureton

Do historians miss the ideals of assessment, as some have suggested? - 0 views

  • Grading Smarter, Not Harder
  • Their recent finding that many students don’t learn critical thinking in undergraduate history courses -- a challenge to history’s sales pitch that its graduates are finely tuned critical thinkers.
  • A panel of professors here urged a sizable crowd of colleagues to embrace not just grades but formative, ongoing assessment to gauge student learning or lack thereof in real(er) time.
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  • LASER, an acronym for Love history, Acquire and analyze information, Solve difficult problems, Envision new explanations, and Reveal what you know. Sourcing work, which Calder called a “threshold concept” in history, means asking students to evaluate the reliability of various historical texts. Who made it? When? Why? What value does it hold for historians, if any?
  • letter grades “do little to differentiate the level of student effort or the quality of student work or student growth over the course of a semester or program,”
  • to the idea of “transparency,” which they all agreed begins with articulating clear student learning goals -- for themselves and their classes.
  • Whatever the activity or assessment, Mintz said it needs to be aligned with a particular learning objective. Research suggests that the most effective activities and assessments when it comes to student learning are considered “authentic,” or those that mirror professional practice and address some meaningful question,
  • Project and performance-based assessments are much more likely to provide a “valid measure of student proficiencies and higher-order thinking skills than are multiple choice or short-answer questions,” Mintz continued. And evaluation needs to be based on a detailed rubric, he said, suggesting that students may help create these rubrics.
  • But “a paradigm shift is occurring in higher education,” Mintz said. “We all know this. We’re sifting from teaching to learning, shifting from a sink-or-swim mentality to a mentality where we have obligation to bring all students to minimum viable level of competency.” That is regardless of institution type, he said.
  • think of themselves as "learning architects" whose meaningful "forward-looking" assessment will be a "true learning opportunity" for students.
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    HT @cmtbasecamp
Meghan Cureton

Grades Suffer When Class Time Doesn't Match Students' Biological Clocks - Inside School Grades - Education Week - 1 views

  • "An important piece of the story is that it's not just about making the life of a teenager easier by saying maybe we can make classes later," said Benjamin Smarr, a postdoctoral psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley who studies circadian rhythm disruptions and learning.
  • As it turned out, taking a class schedule mismatched to your biological clock took a toll on students' grades, as the chart below shows. 
  • Early-rising "larks" had a grade advantage in morning classes, they found. Night owls performed better in afternoon and early evening classes, but the researchers also found these students tended to struggle more than those with earlier circadian rhythms in general. The researchers believe this was because their schedules were the farthest off "normal" class schedules, and the actual class times often varied significantly from day to day, making it difficult for these students to develop any consistency.
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  • Most high schools don't really have the option to make multiple sessions of the same class at different times, but Smarr said for those who use software that can track the timing of students' activity, it may be worth getting a sense of when different groups of students are likely to be most alert when scheduling core classes. Other forms of technology may also help, he said, allowing students to access classes or rewatch lectures at different times of the day.
Meghan Cureton

Six Fixes for Proficiency-Based Learning « Competency Works - 0 views

  • Proficiency-based learning, at its core, is about redesigning the learning and teaching system of America. Instead of basing learning on how much time a student spends, it bases learning on what students can demonstrate—exactly the same as every other system students will encounter in the world outside of school.
  • In addition, schools should continue to share information pertaining to course grades and start to share information regarding student attainment of specific standards, including course-crossing skills such as problem solving, creativity, and analysis. While we would recommend that the course grades continue to use A-F or 0-100 scales, shifting to a 1-4 scale on the standards probably provides better insight for everyone involved. In this way, parents, students, and educators will know how students are doing within the structures of a class and how students are doing in regard to specific standards. This both/and approach will provide more information that can then be used to promote better learning.
  • Keep cohorts of kids together as they progress through their learning. Teachers can vary the learning strategies for various cohorts of students, supporting some students to dig deeper into various standards while others realize initial achievement—and then bringing everyone back together again to start the next unit of learning. Further, as research on learning has demonstrated, learning is a social endeavor, not meant to be undertaken alone. A cohort model supports this research.
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  • Hold students accountable to key and important standards, designating a small handful of “graduation standards” while using the other standards in the Common Core or various state standards to develop curriculum, guide instruction, and build classroom assessments. This strategy focuses learning on key and endurable concepts, skills, and themes; ensures that instructional support is targeted at the most important learning; and pushes students to think about and analyze ideas deeply rather than memorize an unwieldly number of discrete facts.
  • Educators need to clearly define top levels of performance and provide explicit expectations and opportunities for students to achieve these levels of learning. While we should not expect students to “exceed” standards in all cases, educators should require students to do so in areas of particular interest and aptitude for students.
  • Schools must establish both incentives and consequences for critical work habits such as time management and meeting deadlines. Rather than ignore these, they must teach, model, assess, and report them separately and eliminate the practice of controlling behavior by reducing grades. We have seen numerous effective strategies where late work requires coming in after school, not attending co-curricular activities, or mandatory guided study halls, to name a few examples.
Jim Tiffin Jr

Let 'Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten | MindShift | KQED News - 0 views

  • With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name. They instead have chosen to focus on the social interaction and emotional well-being found in free play.
  • With many parents and educators overwhelmed by the amount of academics required for kindergartners — and the testing requirements at that age  — it’s no surprise that the forest kindergarten, and the passion for bringing more free play to young children during the school day, is catching on stateside.
  • “So much of what is going on and the kind of play they do, symbolic play, is really pre-reading,” Molomot said. “It’s a very important foundation for reading.
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  • Donnery notices that the gross motor skills of many of her kindergartners are underdeveloped, noting that usually means that fine motor skills are also lacking. “Developing those gross motor skills is just critical, can impact so much of later learning,” she said.
  • Scenes of rosy-faced children building forts in the snow are presented in sharp contrast to the academic (and mostly indoor) kindergarten in New Haven, Connecticut, where a normal day is packed full of orderly activities: morning meeting, readers’ workshop, writers’ workshop, a special activity (like art, gym, and music), lunch and recess, storytime, “choice” (a fancy word for play), math centers, then closing meeting.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      I would like to see this movie.
  • You’d be surprised at the importance of play.
  • lacking in the attention needed to learn, with more than 10 percent of the school population diagnosed with some kind of attention disorder.
  • occupational therapist Angela Hanscom opined in the Washington Post that there’s good reason our kids are so fidgety: more and more students come to class without having enough core strength and balance to hold their bodies still long enough to learn.
  • “In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.”
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      But this has to be more than just a wiggle stool or yoga ball... HMW get greater movement into Kindergarten? (and it need not just be in the Kindergarten classroom)
  • A recent study by psychologists at the University of Colorado shows an even stronger reason for free play: children who experienced more undirected free play showed signs of stronger executive function, a strong predictor of success in school. “The more time that children spent in less-structured activities,” wrote researchers, “the better their self-directed executive functioning.”
  • Reading and recess are important enough that we need to do both.
  • While this kind of adult-led movement is a far cry from the nearly unstructured free play of a forest kindergarten, it does serve the school’s purpose of high academic standards for their kindergartners, in hopes this prepares them for future academic success.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      Note that it says "hope"...
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    Article contrasting two different approaches to Kindergarten - one outdoor-based and one indoor-based. Full of links to the research regarding the claims made in the article. Additionally, more language around executive function, and its importance for students, is used.
Nicole Martin

Why Curiosity Matters - 1 views

shared by Nicole Martin on 14 Sep 18 - No Cached
  • And socially curious employees are better than others at resolving conflicts with colleagues, more likely to receive social support, and more effective at building connections, trust, and commitment on their teams. People or groups high in both dimensions are more innovative and creative.
  • joyous exploration, deprivation sensitivity, stress tolerance, and social curiosity—improve work outcomes.
  • joyous exploration has the strongest link with the experience of intense positive emotions. Stress tolerance has the strongest link with satisfying the need to feel competent, autonomous, and that one belongs. Social curiosity has the strongest link with being a kind, generous, modest person.
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  • deprivation sensitivity—recognizing a gap in knowledge the filling of which offers relief. This type of curiosity doesn’t necessarily feel good, but people who experience it work relentlessly to solve problems.
  • joyous exploration—being consumed with wonder about the fascinating features of the world. This is a pleasurable state; people in it seem to possess a joie de vivre.
  • social curiosity—talking, listening, and observing others to learn what they are thinking and doing. Human beings are inherently social animals, and the most effective and efficient way to determine whether someone is friend or foe is to gain information. Some may even snoop, eavesdrop, or gossip to do so.
  • stress tolerance—a willingness to accept and even harness the anxiety associated with novelty. People lacking this ability see information gaps, experience wonder, and are interested in others but are unlikely to step forward and explore.
  • thrill seeking—being willing to take physical, social, and financial risks to acquire varied, complex, and intense experiences. For people with this capacity, the anxiety of confronting novelty is something to be amplified, not reduced.
  • we all seek the sweet spot between two deeply uncomfortable states: understimulation (coping with tasks, people, or situations that lack sufficient novelty, complexity, uncertainty, or conflict) and overstimulation.
  • people become curious upon realizing that they lack desired knowledge; this creates an aversive feeling of uncertainty, which compels them to uncover the missing information.
  • nstead of asking, “How curious are you?” we can ask, “How are you curious?”
  • But maintaining a sense of wonder is crucial to creativity and innovation. The most effective leaders look for ways to nurture their employees’ curiosity to fuel learning and discovery.
  • How can organizations help people make the leap from curious to competent?
  • by providing the right types of stretch assignments and job rotations.
  • complexity and breadth of the opportunities they’d been given,
  • It enhances intelligence
  • It increases perseverance, or grit
  • And curiosity propels us toward deeper engagement, superior performance, and more-meaningful goals
  • The ProblemLeaders say they value employees who question or explore things, but research shows that they largely suppress curiosity, out of fear that it will increase risk and undermine efficiency.Why This MattersCuriosity improves engagement and collaboration. Curious people make better choices, improve their company’s performance, and help their company adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures.The RemedyLeaders should encourage curiosity in themselves and others by making small changes to the design of their organization and the ways they manage their employees. Five strategies can guide them.
  • leaders can encourage curiosity
  • when our curiosity is triggered, we are less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias (looking for information that supports our beliefs rather than for evidence suggesting we are wrong) and to stereotyping people (making broad judgments, such as that women or minorities don’t make good leaders). Curiosity has these positive effects because it leads us to generate alternatives.
  • My own research confirms that encouraging people to be curious generates workplace improvements.
  • What is one topic or activity you are curious about today? What is one thing you usually take for granted that you want to ask about? Please make sure you ask a few ‘Why questions’ as you engage in your work throughout the day. Please set aside a few minutes to identify how you’ll approach your work today with these questions in mind.”
  • “What is one topic or activity you’ll engage in today? What is one thing you usually work on or do that you’ll also complete today? Please make sure you think about this as you engage in your work throughout the day. Please set aside a few minutes to identify how you’ll approach your work today with these questions in mind.”
  • When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. Studies have found that curiosity is associated with less defensive reactions to stress and less aggressive reactions to provocation.
  • curiosity encourages members of a group to put themselves in one another’s shoes and take an interest in one another’s ideas rather than focus only on their own perspective. That causes them to work together more effectively and smoothly: Conflicts are less heated, and groups achieve better results.
  • he groups whose curiosity had been heightened performed better than the control groups because they shared information more openly and listened more carefully.
  • Hire for curiosity.
  • “Have you ever found yourself unable to stop learning something you’ve never encountered before? Why? What kept you persistent?”
  • most people perform at their best not because they’re specialists but because their deep skill is accompanied by an intellectual curiosity that leads them to ask questions, explore, and collaborate.
  • “What is the one thing I should do to make things better for you?”
  • hen we demonstrate curiosity about others by asking questions, people like us more and view us as more competent, and the heightened trust makes our relationships more interesting and intimate.
  • But focusing on learning is generally more beneficial to us and our organizations,
  • A body of research demonstrates that framing work around learning goals (developing competence, acquiring skills, mastering new situations, and so on) rather than performance goals (hitting targets, proving our competence, impressing others) boosts motivation. And when motivated by learning goals, we acquire more-diverse skills, do better at work, get higher research in college, do better on problem-solving tasks, and receive higher ratings after training. Unfortunately, organizations often prioritize performance goals.
  • rewarding people not only for their performance but for the learning needed to get there.
  • Leaders can also stress the value of learning by reacting positively to ideas that may be mediocre in themselves but could be springboards to better ones.
  • Organizations can foster curiosity by giving employees time and resources to explore their interests.
  • Employees can also broaden their interests by broadening their networks. Curious people often end up being star performers thanks to their diverse networks,
  • Leaders can also boost employees’ curiosity by carefully designing their teams.
  • What if…?” and “How might we…?”
  • To encourage curiosity, leaders should also teach employees how to ask good questions.
  • Organizing “Why?” days, when employees are encouraged to ask that question if facing a challenge, can go a long way toward fostering curiosity.
  • 5 Whys
  •  
    HT Nicole Martin
Bo Adams

NAIS - One School's Conversation About Open Gradebook - 1 views

  • The critical difference is that at Harpeth Hall, and most likely any all-girls school, we know a student’s numeric average at any given moment will never provide the whole picture of her educational journey
  • At this time, we can find no research showing that open gradebooks have improved students’ research or helped teachers know their students better.
  • The current system, while technically old-fashioned, preserves the teacher-student relationship and still allows students to have ownership.
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  • In order to address this confidence gap, we have identified several primary inhibitors we see in our students. Three of these five inhibitors could be exacerbated by an open gradebook.
Meghan Cureton

Learning's Not a River - Dan Cristiani - Medium - 0 views

  • the word ‘course’ is related to the running of a river
  • Its hallmarks include rapidity, unidirectionality, linearity, and dependency.
  • when a student takes a course, she is being led at pace down a narrow path in one direction.
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  • The overwhelming bulk of our personal growth happens in open environments, without constraints or schedules, and often without guidance.
  • Scholarly research on implicit learning and anecdotal studies of self-taught experts (musicians, chefs, athletes, and more) speak to the power of unstructured study.
  • In truth, courses are not how we organize learning; they are how we organize assessment.
  • what are the alternatives?
  • Perhaps schools would do well to offer up learning experiences rather than formalized courses in all grades
  • Schools can honor learning opportunities that exist outside of traditional coursework.
  • Schools can look for ways to decouple reporting on student performance from arbitrary time frames.
  • how can we create space for students who need more time to consolidate their learning, to master a curriculum or set of skills?
  • Administration and faculty should be willing to acknowledge that courses offer venues for intellectual and personal growth but do not have a monopoly on it.
Bo Adams

Inverse Relationship Between GPA and Innovative Orientation - 0 views

  • “I think academic environments are artificial environments.
  • People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment.
  • You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.
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  • the more experience Google has with hiring, the more inclined they are to hire people with no college at all
  • Increasingly, controlled research studies are also showing no correlation, or even an inverse correlation, between college GPA and innovative orientation or ability.
  • Ironically and tragically, rather than adapt our educational system to the needs of our modern times we have doubled down on the old system, so it is harder today than ever before for young people to retain and build upon their natural curiosity and creativity
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