Grading is good at ‘encouraging people’ to do complicated tasks that are often represented by memorization, obedience and linear thinking. If those are our actual goals. If our goals are complex and include things like creativity… we’re looking to support intrinsic motivation. Grades don’t support intrinsic motivation.
So what do we do about this? For me, the course of action is clear: We need to walk away from traditional grading — in which I include not only multi-interval letter grades but also grades based on statistical point accumulation. We’ve seen enough. Grades are harmful to students’ well-being; they do not provide accurate information for employers, academic programs, or even students themselves; and they steer student motivations precisely where we in higher education do not want those motivations to go. There is no coherent argument you can make any more that traditional grading is the best approach, in terms of what’s best for students, to evaluating student work. If we value our students, we’ll start being creative and courageous in replacing traditional grading with something better.
The grade game is a big thing. Throughout the year every teacher and student will play it. This year we changed the game, and we changed our classroom. I was able to get feedback all the time. I was able to use technology. I learned to self-assess. I had time to revise and check my work which made my writing better. Because I showed evidence of growth and learning, I became a B student.