Thursday, June 30, 2011


It was disconcerting recently to realize that my grading policy is still dysfunctional.  As much as I've moved towards standards-based grading for content, end result evaluation, and student-chosen exemplars, there's vestiges of teacher control and obedience.

With my spectacular grad class this summer (see here and here), there's still an attendance policy.  I felt a conflict because going by my own policy would mean giving a grade or two below A to students who exceeded my goals for the course. I asked the students how they felt about it. All inservice teachers, they asked "were the goals met?"

I was lucky in that this was about an A, A- or B+. No heart-rending decisions.  But in another situation, it easily could be.

In the end I did the right thing.  But now I'm considering how much coercion I want in my syllabi.  I make class worthwhile, as much as I can. (This class's most frequent student evaluation comment was wanting more classes to explore what we did in more depth.)  Do I have to try to make my students come to class? Is it coercion or support?  You know, to help them make the "right" decision.

As it is, I get requests to have more due dates, and require things from them more frequently.  Do they need it?  What can I do instead, with which I can live? Help!

Images: from the excellent but on hiatus


  1. Maybe a variation on David's "gradual release of control" idea - give students a highly structured and prescrIbed course at first (lots of specificity, etc.) but with a "drawdown" as the semester moves on. Move toward student control and tell students this is what's happening.

  2. I just found your blog, and I love it! I can't wait to go through and read your past posts.