All for One (Grade)

“What if I were to collect your papers without names on them, and then — after grading them all individually — averaged the grades and gave everyone the same class average grade? How would things change?”

At first, the response was incredulity. “That wouldn’t be fair,” sums up the initial reaction. Naturally, those who assumed that they would get A’s and B’s were hostile to the idea, because the “average” would pull their grades down. But I asked them again — “How would things change?” —Mike ArnzenAll for One (Grade) (Pedablogue)

I really like how Arnzen describes the way he gets the class to work through their assumptions, parrying their responses, feinting attacks, and finally pulling their hats down over their eyes and clonking them on the noggin by invoking the meaning of “C”.

This term, I’ve been using a “Discussion Reflection Worksheet“. I don’t pass it out at the end of every class, but in my large American Lit section (30 students) and my much cozier freshman comp course, I feel the need for a little documentation to help make the evaluation of classroom participation more meaningful.

It feels too mechanical and awkward to cut off productive discussions in order to make sure I call on every student during every class period. I want students to know that even if I didn’t call on them, they are still responsible.

The five students in Media Aesthetics have to contribute heavily to each class discussion, and so far I’ve been delighted by the depth and quality of their discussions. All are asked to blog their responses to readings before class.

I’m a bit disappointed that they’re posting their responses just before the class meets, which means they don’t have time to read and reflect on each other’s points before class meets. But in all honesty the classroom discussions have been stimulating and productive enough without that extra layer of pre-discussion. There is enough time for each student to present her blog entry during class.