It would be nice if I could come up with a good rhyme for grade to fit this title.
One of my brothers is a biochemistry faculty at Appalachian State University (hint – he is the one with the same last name that I have). We were talking (and surprisingly agreeing) that grades were dumb. What would happen if we stopped grading? Wouldn’t that be awesome?
So, what would happen if there were no grades? Here are some thoughts.
- We would only have one job in the class – help students learn. The second job of evaluating student understanding would only be there to help them learn more.
- It would be painfully obvious to the student that learning was for them and not us (the faculty). Why come to class if you are just going to read the newspaper or surf on your fancy iPhone 4?
- But don’t grades tell employers and graduate schools how good a student is? How about students are responsible for presenting their own evidence for how awesome they are? Maybe a portfolio or something – something like: these are the things I am good at. Oh, but they would lie about what they can do? What is the stop them from doing that now? Isn’t that what a job interview is for?
- But if you don’t grade, they won’t do the work! Won’t they? How can you have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!? Do we really want students that are learning just because we are holding the grade-stick to them? This is college, these students are adults.
- I think there still needs to be some evaluation – evaluation to know where the students are so that you can help them learn. However, this evaluation should not be the Scarlet Letter grade on their chest. Just some type of feedback.
- Cats and dogs, living together.
Here is my favorite. Would we stop hearing this?
“Excuse me, Dr. Allain? Is this going to be on the test?”
To tell you the truth, I rarely hear students say that. But, I do know that it drives some faculty crazy. But I guess I am already crazy – crazy for thinking of a world without grades. Oh – there could be no degree requirements too!