Assessment System

My assessment system centers on dialogue around written work (see entry), not grades. Grades come in only at the end of the semester. I assign an automatic B+ for the written portion of the final grade for satisfactory completion of 80% of the assignments--satisfactory meaning no further revision and resubmission requested. (The 20% slack allows students to make tactical decisions around competing priorities in their work, lives, and course work.) My goal is to work with each student to achieve the 80% level. Students who progress steadily towards that goal during the semester usually end up producing work that meets the criteria for a higher grade (see typical rubric below). Students who do not reach that goal are pro-rated from B+ down to C for 50% of assignments saisfactorily completed. (I have cross-checked the pro-rating procedure by grading individual assignments for these students and the results have always been the same.)

Not grading each assignment during the semester helps teaching/learning interactions stay focused on the student's process of developing through the semester. It keeps time and space for students and myself to appreciate and learn from what each other is saying and thinking.

Usually the written assignments count for two-thirds of the final grade, with participation and contribution to the class process making up the other third. An automatic B+ is given for the participation/process portion of the final grade if students fulfill 80% of a list about 20 participation/process items, where 13 or 14 items correspond simply to "prepared participation and attendance" at the class meetings. Another two items are "minimum of two in-office or phone conferences on your assignments and project," which ensure that students' responses to my written comments can be aired before they fester.

A rubric is used to determine whether a higher grade is earned. Student who show half of the qualities in the rubric earn an A-. Students who show almost all of these earn an A. Qualities in a typical rubric include:
Although I do not emphasize this way of looking at the course, students can tally their grade along the way. If there are 10 written assignments, each one satisfactorily completed earns 10 points up to a maximum of 80 or a B+. Similarly, participation items fulfilled would copunt as 5 points. The student can then combine their points into a % grade giving 2/3 weighting to writing and 1/3 to participation.

Updated: 6-17-02