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Getting there


Friday, May 07, 2004

Thinking about grading:

There is this attempt I see in colleagues to make their grading totally transparent, listing up every moment of participation and logging it (I'm trying out this kind of system with my high school students this year, handing out fake dollar bills for every interaction in the classroom, which students check on a worksheet and add up over the course). Somehow I find this kind of system very big brother, if I were a student I would feel so threatened by the need to perform, so insulted by the way it was being clocked up, continuous assessment gone haywire. I mean if this blog were only about the frequency of posting, and were all about being assessed, it would drive me barmy. I simply wouldn't feel safe.

In the attempt to be fair and grade with transparency I'd prefer to go in Zosia's direction, where the students set up a contract of what grade they want and how they plan to go about getting it. Yes, perhaps if i set up an itemized contract, and then they evaluate how well they managed to stick to what they set out to do, and discuss with me whether how I evaluate them matches up and how we will set the grade, that would be more profitable. That way you can have an off day, and not feel like every moment of your particiapation is clocked up somehow in this giant effort to chase the points, and respects different personality styles and learning styles.
My experience of my ongoing self-evaluation checklist with my two hundred high school students last year showed me one significant gender-based difference in the students: that boys tended to be harder on themselves in terms of rating their performance , compared to girls, who tended to rate themselves higher for what I judged to be comparable standards of work and performance. And since my university course is mainly male... aha, the gender bias I may be evincing here...???

But then filling in a checklist is not so easy, as my Doernyei experiment is showing me: how tired or upbeat you are affects the way you feel able to checka particular item or not. I mean at that point i did motivate in that way, but then at this point in the lesson i didn't, so which should i choose? No wonder I have such difficulty with stupid Likert scale tests and closed questionnaires: it depends, I scream inwardly, as I valiantly attempt to tick boxesand conform and squash my myriad experience into some tiny boxed construct of the researcher to be analysed as a statistically significant sample. In this way a blog is much more honest, and real, and valid.