When I talk to other faculty (and students) about grades, I start with a simple set of questions. These kinds of dialogues influence all the work I do:
- Why do we grade? How does it feel to be graded? What do we want grading to do (or not do) in our classes (whether as students or teachers)?
- What do letter grades mean? Do they have any intrinsic meaning, or is the value purely extrinsic? Does assessment mean differently when it is formative rather than summative?
- How do written comments function as (or in relation to) grades? To what extent should teachers be readers of student work (as opposed to evaluators)?
- What is the role of self-assessment and peer-assessment?
- What would happen if we didn’t grade? What would be the benefits? What issues would this raise for students and/or teachers? Would we be forced to rethink our systems for evaluation?
Jesse Stommel collates a number of resources as a starting point for a discussion about ungrading. This is less a guide, but rather more of a provocation to reflect on why we do what we do. This builds on a recent FAQ piece associated with ungrading.