The grading system for courses offered by CCS is focused on accomplishment, a combination of Pass/No Record grading and variable unit credit. For each course taken in the College, the student enrolls for a specific number of units of work that he or she plans to do during the quarter, from 1 – 6 units. (See Course Descriptions and ask your instructors regarding unit level guidelines in various courses). At the end of the quarter, the instructor of each course determines the number of units each student
‘swork merits (based on the quantity of work done at high quality level). If you earn no units of credit, the course does not appear on your transcript. You should request specific information from your instructors at the beginning of each quarter on what is expected in order to earn the number of units you desire. Though there are no letter grades in CCS classes, students are expected to maintain a high level of quality in all the work they do to fulfill academic requirements. —CCS Grading System (UCSB College of Creative Studies)
Fascinating. Students still need 180 credits to graduate, but a bright student could theoretically graduate in half the time.
I have done something like this on a small scale at my previous job, giving students some flexibility in setting their own deadlines. I did have some problems with students turning in no work for a month, then doing all-nighters to turn in three papers in the last week of class — expecting me to get them back in enough time for them to revise and resubmit the next week. So I had to set some limits — e.g. students couldn’t submit paper 2 until I’ve approved paper 1; they couldn’t submit first drafts of paper 2 and paper 3 in the same week (since the point of paper 2 is to give the student practice that will help them produce paper 3).
I spent a lot of time explaining this method, and I think it really did help me spend most of my time with those students who were most motivated to learn, but I’m not sure it helped those students who overestimated their abilities and only got serious about the course in the last month. Some of the same students who hated being nagged early in the term complained that I gave them too much freedom… and the more I tried to emphasize the importance of sticking to deadlines, the more negative my “welcome to the class” lecture got to be.
I really think the sequenced assignments were a beautiful thing, because they established a direct link between a student’s academic habits and their consequences. Students who chose to take a little vacation ended up running out of time before they got to the major assignments — and the class was designed to reward those who kept up… which is a polite way of saying it was designed to make sure that student procrastination didn’t create extra work for me.
My thought is, in a writing class, I’d rather a student write and re-write two papers until they are A-level quality, even if it means they run out of time and can’t even start the next two papers, than get Cs on all four papers without revising any of them. I greatly simplified my system when I came to Seton Hill, but I’d like perhaps to bring it back on a smaller scale.
Link found via Jocalo.