Teaching More By Grading Less: Creating Meaningful Assessments That Align With Learning Objectives
Instructors and course designers often find themselves assigning students large loads of assessment work, in the belief that learner skills need to be weighed and demonstrated by numerical measurements of mastery at every step of the learning process. This thinking leads to test fatigue for learners and grading fatigue for instructors.
“Why Are Students So Focused on Grades?” provides a way to design assessments and activities to provide learners with greater engagement, more in-depth application of course concepts, and meaningful ways to demonstrate course learning outcomes—all while reducing the grading workload for instructors.
Learn how to apply alternative ways of assessing student work and giving feedback to lower anxiety, remove barriers to learning, reduce cheating, and motivate more students to learn.
When was the last time you confronted a student about cheating, only to hear that he or she “just had to get a good grade” to pass the class or stay in the program? Think back, too, to the last time you graded student work. How long did it take you? What if we told you that your students could actually learn more and learn better if you were to grade less, or perhaps not at all?
There has to be a catch, right? Well, no, there isn’t. Adopting an ungrading, specifications-grading, or minimalist-grading approach can help learners be more active, curious, and engaged, all while reducing your workload as an instructor.
This Innovative Educators webinar presents a framework of expert-level assessment practices, all backed by the science of how our brains learn, and in response to the ways that our students have been conditioned by their K-12 and college experiences to “get the grades” rather than focus on learning the content and practices.
- Understand how to minimize learner anxiety that leads to cheating and poor skill demonstration, by designing completion-only and feedback-only learner activities
- Explore how to grade less by adopting ungrading, specifications grading, or a scaffolded minimalist grade structure
- Design course interactions that provide learners with greater choice and defining power for learning outcomes
- Enrollment Management
- Student Services/Affairs
- Any educator interested in learning more about peer mentor programs
When I first started teaching, I assumed that giving a lot of grades throughout every course was a way to help students track their progress and motivate them to keep with challenging concepts and practices. It turns out that all those grades were having exactly the opposite effect, and now I know why.
Thomas J. Tobin is the Program Area Director for Distance Teaching & Learning on the Learning Design, Development, & Innovation (LDDI) team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in technology-enhanced education, especially copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and accessibility/universal design for learning.
Before joining UW-Madison, Tobin served for five years as the Coordinator of Learning Technologies in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and spent seven years in the Learning and Development arm of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
Since the advent of online courses in higher education in the late 1990s, Tom’s work has focused on using technology to extend the reach of higher education beyond its traditional audience. He advocates for the educational rights of people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
He holds a Ph.D. in English literature, a second master’s degree in information science, a professional project management certification, a master online teacher certification, Quality Matters certification, and recently completed his Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) certification (he tells his nieces and nephews that he is in 42nd Grade).
Tom serves on the editorial boards of InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching and the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.
His books include
- Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015) with Jean Mandernach and Ann H. Taylor.
- The Copyright Ninja: Rise of the Ninja (2017).
- Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (2018) with Kirsten Behling.
- Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (2020) with Katie Linder and Kevin Kelly.
Tom was also proud to represent the United States on a Spring 2018 Fulbright Scholar fellowship, under which he helped Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary to develop its first faculty-development program, and he provided workshops and training to twelve other colleges, universities, and military programs throughout Hungary.
Bio current as of October 2020.
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Colleges are using Go2O in a variety of ways:
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We take quality seriously, and so all of our workshops are top notch in terms of content and look. However, if we know how you plan to use StudentLingo (FYE, Retention, Probation, TRIO, etc.), we can make workshop recommendations.
Funding is a little tight, how many workshops can I get for $XX?
You can buy the entire StudentLingo package (50 workshops) or we offer several a la carte options. Unlike a lot of other software companies, we don’t charge per user, so we can work with any budget. We recommend talking to other departments on campus to increase your purchasing power and to share the cost. Also, we do have a pay model whereby students pay directly. If you are interested in learning more about this option, give us a call.
Is there an admin view?
This is a feature of our platform, but comes at an additional cost. With the admin view, you get access to more advanced reporting, and you have it in real time. With the standard membership, you get monthly reports.
How have other schools leveraged reporting?
- One of our partners, College of Southern Nevada, used StudentLingo to measure learning outcomes. in a study, one class had access to StudentLingo and the other cohort did not. 92% of the cohort with access to StudentLingo earned a whole letter grade higher than the cohort without StudentLingo.
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- Some of our partners use the data to connect with their student information system, like Banner or Peoplesoft.
- I think a great way to get started on how you want to use the data is to ask yourself some questions:
- How will I know if StudentLingo was successful?
- What do I hope students will gain from access to StudentLingo?
- What data is important for me to know in order to show that StudentLingo is a worthwhile purchase?
What is TutorLingo?
TutorLingo is a series of 9 online training modules that prepare tutors by providing the basic skills necessary to support their peers in becoming more independent and strategic learners.
Should the TutorLingo trainings be viewed in any particular order?
No, each training is a stand-alone workshop, and they can be viewed in any order.
What is the CRLA?
The CRLA is a group of student-oriented professionals active in the fields of reading, learning assistance, developmental education, tutoring, and mentoring. In 1989, the CRLA created a training program that is considered ‘best-practice’ for tutor training. A fews years ago, Innovative Educators partnered with the CRLA to create supplementary training modules. Our training supports learning centers in achieving level 1 certification through CRLA.
Do CRLA members receive a discount on TutorLingo?
Yes. CRLA members receive a 10% discount on TutorLingo.
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Yes. The admin view is an upgrade and costs $500, but gives you the ability to access completion data more efficiently and in real time. If you don’t want the admin view, we provide monthly usage reports.
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ParentLingo is a go-to resource that institutions can easily share with parents to encourage student independence, growth & success. ParentLingo is a shared resource that recognizes and includes parents as partners in the educational process.
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- 8 Targeted Modules For Parents Branding (Logo On Every Page)
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