Wednesday, January 11, 2006

value of learning and grades

Hey compadres-
Nice to hear and see you all again. I just wanted to throw something out there that absolutely blew my mind today. I had asked my freshman and American Lit. classes to write a one page narrative answering these questions: What is the value of learning? What are the value of grades? and What did they want to learn or take away from my class? Today, I had an amazingly open and candid conversation with the AL kids,and they let the cat out of the bag, so to say. After our conversations about grades and the article we just read,I found these students had many similar takes. They had such honest and perceptive insight into grades and their purpose. For the most part, students felt that grades took away from their overall learning and they were just a system of determining rank and order. For the most part, their feelings weren't too positive, but they understood that they were here and must be given. They want their focus to be more about the learning than the grade. I will share with you all, at the next meeting, my findings, and possibly share their narratives about this topic. I was open with them about my philosophy with it, and I even asked them to give me input as to how I could still give them grades, but have learning be more of the main element, and to allow them some input for me in how to grade certain things. Some were funny, some were serious. I also had a student who came to me after class and said what do you think about pass/ fail? Could we do that? I'll share more later, but I wanted to tell you guys what I found out briefly. I am really struggling with this and I'm seeing more as I teach and try to engage students in their learning how important this may become in the future. If we are going to be the catalysts for change, isn't this an isssue that should be supported from above? Can it be supported-will it ever?


Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Fantastic! I think it's possible that you did more to encourage your class to really learn this semester in this one discussion than in countless other lectures in previous classes. I think both by getting them to think about grades and learning, and sincerely asking for their opinion, you just got them prepped to really do their best to learn in your class. Way to go! You just did wonders for your students . . .

2:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

You ROCK, Jessie! This statement took my breath away...students felt that grades took away from their overall learning and they were just a system of determining rank and order. This is what we (the 21C team) have read about, discussed amongst ourselves, and now talked to our students about! Yippee! I cannot wait to hear more.

4:15 PM  

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