While I’m not completely restructuring my grading policy, I am providing an opportunity for students to take risks without fear of harming their grades (the old GPA concern). Since this is a common concern from students and parents, I’ve thought quite a bit about how to allow students to experiment, to take risks, without fear of losing a grade.
This new policy (listed below) should also change the motivation for doing an assignment. The points essentially don’t matter, but the learning does. Instead of students asking about how many points an assignment is worth, they could start asking what skills need to be shown or what learning must be demonstrated.
I will, on my syllabus, admit that this new policy is completely subjective and only up to my judgment. Here it is. I will give the student an ‘A’ if a student:
- turns in every assignment completed and on time,
- participates fully in every activity,
- makes up all missing work from absences in an allotted amount of time, and
- tries his/her absolute best on every assignment.
Too often I have provided assignments with multiple layers of difficulty, and the only reason a student would not attempt the more difficult options–even though he/she was very interested in the assignment option–was the worry over the impact on the student’s overall grade. Maybe this will help. I already allow rewrites on papers and second attempts on projects, but I think this adds a layer of security for my students.
I’m not naive enough to think all students will rise to this challenge, but I do believe some will and others may follow suit. If this option even allows a small number of students to strive for more, then I feel it’s worth the attempt.
What do you think of this?