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Grading 2.0: Evaluation in the Digital Age

HASTAC is running a series of forums related to education/media/society. A current topic – Grading 2.0: Evaluation in the Digital Age – is being actively discussed. The introduction to the discussion states:

As the educational and cultural climate changes in response to new technologies for creating and sharing information, educators have begun to ask if the current framework for assessing student work, standardized testing, and grading is incompatible with the way these students should be learning and the skills they need to acquire to compete in the information age.

Grading is a waste of time. We only do it in schools and universities. It’s a sorting technique, not truly an evaluation technique. Iterative and formative feedback is what’s really required for learning. This is achieved through active engagement with and contribution to networks of learners. On a side note, William Farish is credited with creating “grading” in the first place…and it’s a recent addition to education. How did educators evaluate competency before grading? Sustained participation and engagement with networks of learners and educators. But, of course, the authors of the HASTAC post are not trying to do away with grading (as I would suggest we should). They are trying to use technology to make grading more “modern” or “in line” with society’s needs today. I think that’s exactly the wrong way to go about it. Question the model, don’t modernize it.

6 Comments

  1. José Mota wrote:

    “Grading is a waste of time. We only do it in schools and universities. (…) Iterative and formative feedback is what’s really required for learning”

    Well, thanks for saying it out loud and clearly. We should have been moving in the direction you point a while ago, and still most people in education and elsewhere seem to be fascinated with grading and measuring everything and anything they can concerning learning.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  2. Rachel Jones wrote:

    It’s worth looking at Dylan Wiliam’s work on assessment, grading and feedback. His meta review of research in the mid 1990s (Inside the Black Box) found that grading work can actually detract from performance rather than improve it focuses on the performance ‘outcome’ rather than rresponse to developmental advice. See http://www.dylanwiliam.net/ for this and the next decade or so of fascinating work on assessment.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  3. Bill wrote:

    In a world where education is a voluntary endeavor undertaken by the willing and able, then yes, grading is unnecessary. But the mass education of the lethargic and disinterested requires us to grade, in order to coerce “students” into expending at least some minimal effort.

    Friday, November 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  4. I’ve recently been doing a lot of thinking about if “the system” can really be changed from the inside, or if the inertia of its immense size will prevent that from happening, and force the development of alternate external systems. Grades are an inherent part of schools today because schools are very different beasts from what they were pre-Farish, and getting rid of them will mean getting rid of our current mass-production style system of education. Maybe the shift would be possible in small colleges with an ideal teacher-to-student ratio, but I can’t see it happening in large research universities like the one that I’m at…

    Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  5. I agree with Jose said that we should have been moving in the direction you point a while ago, and still most people in education and elsewhere seem to be fascinated with grading and measuring everything and anything they can concerning learning.
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    Monday, November 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  6. Marj Kibby wrote:

    Having just attended a govt funded workshop on how to grade student assisnments that use Web 2.0 applications, I’m reminded that neither should men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish …

    Getting students to blog, to encourage them to express opinions on the issues of importance to them, and then giving them a grade that signifies that their blog was better or worse than their fellow students ….??!!

    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink