grades, grading, and progress…


blooms taxonomy

Inspired by the readings and my own experiences as a student, I worked with my students to co-create an exam; they came up with questions and I organized them into the form the students said they felt most comfortable with. It was difficult to have students think beyond multiple choice and scan-trons, but it worked– students began to think about how they can show what they have learned and are learning, rather than what thy have memorized.  The test was made and taken; 34 questions, 50 minutes.

Now, I am grading. Should I create a rubric for the essay questions? Read the entire response and holistically grade each one individually? Of course it is nether this OR that, but a relationship between the two. What I dread is the numeric or alphabetical system which doesn’t tell students what they have learned, but rather where they land on a scale of 1-10, 1-100, A-f, unsatisfactory-beyond expectations. What I fear is that students will see that indicator and forget their progress– their new abilities and growing abilities to think critically, meta-cognitively, and across disciplines. I look forward to the day when I can have control over my syllabus and work around or remove exams.

Until then, I hope students neither fear or adore these systems, I hope we–together–find ways around the scales to the act of searching and researching and producing new knowledge(s) and possibilities for whatever our discipline or field may be; in my case, Appalachia.



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4 Responses to grades, grading, and progress…

  1. alishafarris says:

    Go you! That is very cool. Yes, I agree this will presumably all be simpler when we are in our own positions somewhere and where everything we do isn’t a reflection on our advisor. You make a great point. Does it even matter if in the end they receive a “grade” anyway? Will they appreciate the process still? That sounds like a great research study waiting to happen….

  2. shaunab18 says:

    I really like the idea of having students create their own exam. Would you mind providing more information on how you did this? Did each student contribute one question? Did they work together? Did you guide them on how the questions could be formatted? Did you have any requirements on the format of the questions?

    • jllaney says:

      Thank you for asking! The collaborative exam-making is still “in progress” but students seem to respond well and perform well with ownership. I simply set aside a day for creation and a day for review. On the “creating” day student individually or in groups create a list of questions they believe are fair assessments of what we have covered. We also discuss form; what makes students nervous, what they like, what do they imagine, what are the possibilities/constraints, etc. This time, the test ended up with 15 multiple choice, 15 short answer/fill in the blanks and a choice of 2 essays (out of 4 options). Students post their suggestions on scholar under a forum post and I create a cohesive study guide, adding and editing only when necessary. I then make the exam out of the study guide, however students do not know which questions will be in which form… I hope that makes sense. I am also thinking of offering another option; a “what have you learned” approach with topics for students to choose from. Options seem to be key. Please share any thoughts, ideas, or feedback!


  3. Miko says:

    That is pretty cool. I believe that whatever you end up choosing or doing, it would be very convenient to always provide solid and insightful feedback. My only issue with rubrics is that students just a get a letter or number and have no idea about how to improve their work.

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