Grading for Growth 

Grades are weird. We look at the work of a student, then we measure it against a rubric, often derived from work other students have done, and assign it a point value. Those points are added together at the end of the term and matched with a letter grade in a table which we then submit to the University. Then those letters are translated back into numbers so a student can know their cumulative GPA. This is the system we have arrived at through happenstance and history and it is outlined quite well in the recent book Grading for Growth by David Clark and Robert Talbert (check out this substack or recent podcast if you don’t want to read the whole book).

There are, of course, actual grading policy guidelines for this at Chico State. There are radical alternatives other Universities have tried. There is even the alternative of “ungrading” which seeks to unpack and undo the history of grading. 

This is not an endorsement of any specific practice or critique. Systems of grading are one of the many truths we have historically accepted that deserve a closer look. Take a few minutes and reflect on what you hope to accomplish when you assign a student a letter grade to see if it matches up with the broader convictions you have about education, growth, and learning. You could even go further and have a conversation with your students about what grades mean to them. Speaking of investment of time–applications for our summer programs on AI (May 28-31) and Writing (June 3-13) are open until April 19. Check out the full calls and apply now!

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Student Participation Yay or Nay?

Dear faculty, 

Yesterday I ran into an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, about the problematic nature of grading class participation. In Should We Stop Grading Class Participation?, James M. Lang discusses how grading participation is often very subjective – and therefore inevitably biased – and shares that: “when we drill down to the particulars, this grading practice raises some hard questions that usually are left unanswered: Are all comments equal? What counts as a comment worthy of a good grade? How am I tracking the quality of the comments, as opposed to the sheer quantity?” 

What Lang suggests is not to eliminate opportunities for students to engage (with both the material, with each other, and the instructor), but to reconsider what that engagement looks like and what different forms can take. This topic was the focus of one of the Go Virtual Community meetings we had in the Fall, and I created a brief presentation about Evaluating Participation. These slides offer information about benefits, challenges, and methods for assessing participation, but also resources that invite to reconsider the role of participation as a graded portion of the course, including links to rubrics that can help evaluate participation and engagement in more holistic, equitable, and meaningful ways. 

I hope you will find these resources both useful and challenging! 

UPCOMING EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES 
TODAY! Teaching Racial and Social Justice Series (3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.) 
Friday Forum: How to Approach Service Strategically (April 16, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
CAL$ Summer Program Application (Due April 19th)
QLT WorkshopsREGISTER HERE.

 Submit ideas for activities in zoom discussions and breakout rooms HERE

Chiara Ferrari, Ph.D. 
Faculty Development, Director 
Campus zip: 026 
Phone: 530-898-3094
https://www.csuchico.edu/fdev/
Professor 
Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology 
Campus zip: 504 
Phone: 530-898-4647 

Tuesday Tip – Visit the Grading Oasis Starting Next Week!

Reminder – applications for the three Fall ’19 Faculty Learning Communities are open through this Sunday, May 5. You may apply to more than one. Details and application links are on the Faculty Development website.
The Grading Oasis will be open to all faculty, including lecturers, from May 6-17 from 8am-5pm in MLIB 459. Drop in at your leisure to grade, read, write, or just relax and enjoy the panoramic view of campus. We will have free hot coffee, decaf, hot tea, snacks and fresh fruit each day to support you. Our student assistant, Ariana, may be available to assist with some grading as long as student names are not visible.

Best wishes to you for a smooth finish to the semester!

Grading with Rubrics – Free Resource

Tis the season for grading final exams, group projects, and term papers. If you want to use rubrics to increase grading reliability and save yourself time but don’t want to create them, then consider downloading one of the VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) Rubrics offered free through the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). After creating a free account, you can download up to 16 different rubrics on topics such as critical thinking, oral communication, teamwork, ethical reasoning, and more. As a sidenote, AAC&U is a great website for info on high-impact practices, STEM in higher ed, and other pedagogical resources.

Efficient Grading

“The Laundry of Teaching” – that’s what a colleague of mine once nicknamed the process of grading because as soon as you finish one pile, another one awaits. Grading may not be the most riveting of the professorial tasks, but here are a few strategies to make it more accurate and less time-consuming.

  • Give feedback using a speech-to-text dictation app or create an audio file of your verbal feedback using a mobile device and upload to Box for students.
  • To reduce grading bias on paper exams, fold the corner of the page to hide student’s names.
  • Only write exam questions that assess your course learning outcomes. The rest are likely unnecessary.
  • Grade with a rubric for increased accuracy and consistency. This requires an investment of time up front to create the rubric but it will save you lots of time (and headaches) down the road.

Grading Oasis Starts Today!

Based on your feedback, the Grading Oasis will begin early this semester! Starting now and ending May 18, MLIB 459 will be open to all faculty to stop by and grade, write, read, or just relax Monday through Friday 8am-5pm. We stocked up on snacks, coffee, and hot tea that will be available to you. Also, FDEV student assistant, Ariana, will be available some of the time to help grade, alphabetize papers, or whatever you need (as long as she doesn’t see names with grades).

Have a productive and fun rest of the semester!

Visit the Grading Oasis Next Week!

Want to grade papers in a large naturally-lit room? Interested in working in a space that includes colleagues from other department? Break out of your office and swing by the Grading Oasis next week in MLIB 459 (a dedicated space for all faculty including lecturers). This room has a top-floor scenic view of campus with a panoramic outlook over the rose garden (see flyer below). Next week (Dec 11-15), there will be hot coffee and snacks for you from 8-5. Additionally, you can request grading on-site assistance from our FDEV student assistant, Ariana, on Mon 8-5, Wed 8-11, or Fri 8-5 (as long as she doesn’t see any student names with grades).

Hope to see you next week!

Snag 1 New Teaching Idea This Week at CELT

Every CELT conference I’ve attended, I showed up to only about half the sessions for which I registered because of last-minute grading, prepping, writing, etc. I still count that as a win because I always got to discuss potential interdisciplinary collaborations with people outside my department, learned what colleagues across campus were doing to enhance teaching effectiveness, and always managed to snag one new idea to implement in my classes. I encourage you to register for everything that sounds interesting to you and then attend what you can. If all 1,000 Chico State faculty are able to snag just one new teaching idea this week, we will be a stronger campus next week and our students will reap the benefits.

On Thursday and Friday, you have the opportunity to hear from your colleagues and experts in the field about service learning (Thurs at 9:30), leadership (keynote – Thurs at 11:30), civic engagement (Thurs at 2:30), the role of students’ backgrounds (Fri at 9), course redesign (Fri at 2), community building (Fri at 3) and so much more.

Professional development is an investment in you, your students, and your colleagues. CELT registration is free and travel costs are zero. I hope to see you at some of the sessions including lunch on Thursday with Dr. Lynn Gangone, one of the nation’s top leaders in teacher education.

You will never believe who…

Stopped by the Faculty Grading Oasis during finals week and finished all their grading—You! Come see us during finals week for open space, coffee, snacks, tech support from TLP, and assistance (FERPA compliant) from our student staff.

It is that time of year. Grading is piling up, and each piece of click-bait you see looks more enticing as you try and avoid the regular task of finishing your grading. With that in mind, our “reasons to visit” the Grading Oasis is inspired by the click-bait you should avoid:

  1. Genius uses this one weird trickto finish all their grading. Seriously, going somewhere new and having some help makes a difference.
  2. You won’t believe what this instructor looks like nowhappy once they have come by the Grading Oasis for coffee and snacks. We buy, and you thrive.
  3. Healthy professors do this one thing to stay youngthey get help with their grading. Our students help with blinded grading, alphabetizing, anything FERPA allows them to assist with. TLP help is two doors away!
  4. Warren Buffet is warning teachers not toprocrastinate on finishing grading. Avoid the artificial extension of your classwork into the summer by doing it soon.
  5. Shocking photos of polar bear attacks-okay I don’t have a tie in for this one, I just like polar bear videos.

Grading Oasis (4)

 

The call for the 23rd annual CELT conference is live! Submit an abstract today to change the world tomorrow—or maybe in October.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast. Our newest episode is out now! President Gayle Hutchinson joins Mary, Tracy, and I to discuss the bright future of CSU, Chico. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Get it Done!

Many of us will do anything to avoid grading. If you have a to-do list you need to get through and avoiding grading is that push you need to clean the gutters, finish your shopping, or clean the grout in your bathroom please disregard this email. If you are someone who actually wants to get your grading done read on!

The Faculty Grading Oasis is open and we want to help you finish your grading. Here is what we have to offer.

grading-oasis

  1. Fresh coffee, creamer, tea, and snacks.
  2. Space away from your office where no one will knock on your door, and you can get grading done.
  3. Help from our student staff Monday-Thursday 8-5. They can alphabetize exams, grade exams with direction (as long as the student name is hidden), and help with clerical tasks.
  4. Accountability from each other and from admin extraordinaire Michelle Wysocki, who comes in to MLIB 459 to peer at you with her judging eyes if you are off task.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our third episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore athletics at Chico and beyond in the aptly titled “locker room talk.” Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.