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A Look at Grading for Growth | Social Learning Amplified

In this episode of the Social Learning Amplified podcast, Eric Mazur and guests Dr. David Clark (Grand Valley State University) and Dr. Robert Talbert (Grand Valley State University) discuss their new book, Grading for Growth: A Guide to Alternative Grading Practice That Promote Authentic Learning and Student Engagement in Higher Education. The guests discuss the interplay between grading and assessment, the need for rethinking traditional grading practices, and the four pillars of alternative grading. They also emphasize the importance of intrinsic motivation in learning and share their experiences with student reactions to alternative grading. The episode concludes with the guests offering simple steps that listeners can take to move towards alternative grading in their own courses.

Read and engage with them from January 15th, 2024 to February 9th, 2024 at their Perusall Engage Community Book Event. Learn more: perusall.com/engage.

 

Eric Mazur:

Welcome to the Social Learning Amplified podcast, the podcast that brings us candid conversations with educators who are finding new ways to engage and motivate their students inside and outside the classroom. Each episode of social learning amplified will give you real life examples and practical strategies you can put into practice in your own courses. Let's meet today's guests. Thank you for joining us today as we kick off season two of the Social Learning Amplified podcast series. I'm your host, Eric Mazur and our guests on the episode today are Dr. Robert Talbert and Dr. David Clark. Robert and David, thank you so much for being here today. I'm really so excited to be talking to you about your new book, Grading for Growth.

Robert Talbert:

Thanks, Eric. Thank you for having us.Grading for Growth by David Clark and Robert Talbert 

David Clark:

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Eric Mazur:

Well, let me start by telling everyone a bit about the two of you. Robert is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He holds a PhD in mathematics, Vanderbilt University. He's the author of Flipped Learning, A Guide for Higher Education Faculty published by stylists in 2017. His latest book, Grading for Growth co-authored with David was published just this past July by Routledge. Robert also holds the position of Senior Faculty Fellow for Learning Futures through the president's office at Grand Valley State University. In this capacity, Robert works to connect faculty with teaching innovation research projects. I've been a long-time fan of Robert's blogs. He writes on Higher Education and leadership at rtabert.org on alternative grading practices at gradingforgrowth.com and on balance and productivity in academia at intentionalacademia.substack.com. As a side note, as you may guess from what you see on the wall behind Robert, he has been a bass guitarist for 30 years and currently.  Well, he had a major impact on my own teaching.

A couple of years ago. I came across a specification grad on his blog and it completely transformed how it pivoted to a totally different grading approach during the pandemic. Our other guest, David Clark, is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University. He earned his PhD in 2012 at Michigan Technological University, and as you might guess from the fact that he wrote the book about grading that is the subject of this podcast. David is a leading proponent of alternative grading in higher education beyond assessment. David studies combinatorics the art and science of counting and especially enjoys introducing students to mathematical research. He also serves on the senior staff for Math Path, a months long residential enrichment program for middle school students. David is an avid photographer, backpacker, and board gamer. First of all, congratulations on your new book and I'm going to give the full title now, Grading for Growth, A Guide to Alternative Grading Practices That Promote Authentic Learning and Student Engagement in Higher Education. I found it a fascinating read as it debunks the myth of traditional grading and then presents a framework if you want, for more authentic assessment of our students' competencies. Now, I use the word assessment here, even though your book really focuses on grading. Is alternative grading the holy grail of better assessment? And if so, what is alternative grading?

David Clark:

That is a good question. I would say alternative grading is a way to improve how we grade a holy grail. I don't know. I do not want to promise that much, but I will say that we can definitely do better in terms of respecting and embracing how humans learn and the way that we grade and assess they are big parts of that. The incentives that students feel, the way that they react, whether they're focused on learning things or whether they're focused on playing the game makes a huge difference and so are grading and assessment methods that respect how humans learn and that use that as a key part of their development. That's what we call alternative grading as a broad sense.

Eric Mazur:
I see. So Robert, what is your take on the interplay between grading and assessment?

Robert Talbert:

So the difference between, we actually had this discussion a lot in the book. We kept going back between using alternative assessment and alternative grading assessment to me refers to the work that we ask students to do to demonstrate their progress toward learning a particular concept or topic or process. It's the quiz, the test, the exam, the project we're assessing how much they know and how well they're doing. Grading is how we communicate this progress or lack of progress back to the student. So there's a feedback loop that's at the heart of everything that we learned that is of any kind of significance. And the assessment is sort of like the doing that you do when you are engaged in a feedback loop to learn anything. And the grading is in some way the feedback itself. For a very long time, there was no such thing as grading in higher education at all. Just nobody put grades on anything until around 1750. And we've only had our traditional percentages 4.0 G-P-A-B-C-D-F grading system for a little over 120 years. It's a relatively recent development and there are a lot of reasons to believe that that's not the optimal way to drive growth through this feedback loop. And so when we talk about alternative grading, we're talking about ways to keep that feedback loop looping until we really perceive that students are truly growing in what they're trying to learn and helping them along the way rather than throwing up roadblocks.

Eric Mazur:

So in a sense, you've just put your finger on it because you've said we can have assessment without grading. Up to under 20 years ago, there was assessment. I mean, we always evaluate people. We always, even if we don't consciously do it, we evaluate each other without attaching a grade to it. On the other hand, it would be very difficult to do grading without assessment.

Robert Talbert:

It would be very easy to do grading without assessment. It would just be incredibly unfair. I mean, I would just look at you and give you a grade. I mean, it would not be connected to anything that you do, and that's obviously not the greatest thing, but you're right at the flip side of that, the converse was true for many, many centuries. There was assessment, there's always been assessments. It might've been in the form of an oral exam at the end of your four years of study, which is how it was done throughout the entirety of higher education until the 17 hundreds, but there was no grade. It's a grading without assessment is just simply labeling people. Assessment without grading on the other hand, is doable.

David Clark:

And something I think that's important to bring up here is that for the most part, when we're talking about alternativeDr. David Clark, Grand Valley State University grading, what we're really talking about is on individual things that students are doing student work. We more or less live in our current world where we can't escape from giving students final grades. Whether or not that's a great idea is a different discussion, but we're really talking about how is it that we give that feedback and assign grades on things that students do during class or outside of class rather than the final result.

Robert Talbert:

Yeah, that's absolutely right. There are a few places in the United States at least, and we're still kind of learning about how this works outside the United States that don't have traditional letter grades on courses, new college in Florida, evergreen State University in the Pacific Northwest and a handful of other places. But most people have to give grades in a course. But there are very few rules about how exactly you come about giving grades in those courses as long as it's fairly done and sort of monotonic like better work should get a higher grade, and that's a wide open opening for where our book really comes in. You don't have to do it with points or percentages or one and done assessments. It can be done in a lot of different ways and you're still doing what you're supposed to do as a faculty member. Yeah.

Eric Mazur:

I was smiling earlier, Robert, because you mentioned that grading without assessment will be unfair, but I think you both in your book make the argument, and I think I all agree that a lot of the grading that is currently done, the traditional type of grading is very unfair in itself and maybe not that different from having a grading without an assessment.

David Clark:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So there's so many things in traditional grading that they actively work against how humans just like to learn how humans naturally learn or even punish students for going through a very natural human process of this feedback loop of trying, getting feedback, adjusting and improving. One of the biggest things is averaging in all of the student's work, including if they tried something early on and they struggled with it, but then later on a different assessment, they're able to show that they fully understood it. If we average in that first attempt, we're basically saying, sorry, the fact that you learned from it doesn't really count in this class, not nearly as much as it probably should.

Eric Mazur:

Right. So that sort of brings me to my next question. I mean, my own trajectory as an educator. I mean, I started as a very traditional lecturer. I did traditional exams, and then I started to realize that my lecturing was really not getting the learning that I wanted in my classroom. I started to change my approach to a more actively engaged approach, peer instruction and the flipped classroom. And it took another probably 20 years before it finally hit me. I should think about the output end first before I think about the input and namely the grading and the assessment because that's in a sense in the student's eyes the other way around. And I think we see that all around us. I think the nineties just around the turn of the century and the first decade of this 21st century we're very much focused on the act of teaching rather in assessment. Why do you think there is a need now in particular for a book like yours and really for reconsidering how we do grading and our grading practices in general?

Dr. Robert Talbert, Grand Valley State UniversityRobert Talbert:

Well, that's a great question. It seems like you're right. I was thinking back to my own experiences as a grad student in the nineties in the math department at Vanderbilt, and this was during the so-called Math Wars, where at Harvard of course you had the Hughes had Deborah Hughes Hallett and the Harvard Calculus book was coming out heavy focus on conceptual understanding and procedural or conceptual knowledge versus procedural knowledge. And there were a lot of fights over how this, I mean, literally fights over how this should be done in class. But nobody was thinking about if you assessing procedural knowledge and assessing conceptual knowledge are kind of different and they're putting points on each one, grading them traditionally, that may not make sense. And it seems like the real turning point in my view, of course, was the pandemic. And when the pandemic hit, it was a moment of great clarity for higher education to step back and say, we've got to rethink everything that we have been doing traditionally because the world is completely different now than it was prior to March, 2020.

And we started thinking about a lot of very innovative things that I frankly didn't think I was going to live to see shifting to online instruction. And for example, I don't know if that shift's going to stick in the future, but certainly we were thinking a lot about students' wellbeing during those times and their mental health and just are they fully present and showing up, giving their best selves to the kind of teaching that we're doing. And a lot of folks began to start questioning whether points and one and done exams even made any kind of sense in a world where you might not even have a classroom to meet in from one day to the next. And I think that the pandemic upended so much that it gave everyone permission to rethink all of the chestnuts of higher education. We've always sort of assumed we're there the whole time and start thinking about some real alternatives.

Now, thinking about alternatives goes back in our book, we traced this history and you can really trace the pushback on traditional grading really started to begin in the forties and really hit a fever pitch in the seventies, but kind of laid low for a while. And once we had this very different environment for our students, people started saying, we got to change everything and we got to really try to do right by our students. And that includes how we assess and ultimately how we grade people. And I think what we hope for in our book is to not only trace his history and give strong arguments in favor of alternatives, but also give a lot of examples and a lot of blueprints for how people can really do this. To me, that's I and David, I'll shut up and let you chime in on this in a second, but for me, as I've gone around and worked with faculty, there's a great hunger. I mean, there's a real realization that people just don't want to put up with this traditional grading stuff anymore. It's not good data. It doesn't help students, but they want to learn how, and I hope that we are teaching them how this is kind of like we are teaching people with this book how to go about doing the alternatives that we're speaking about.

David Clark:

Yeah, I want to expand on that point a little bit because I think Robert is absolutely right that especially the pandemic really kicked a lot of people into reconsidering things they've traditionally done, but that still leaves open. Well then what do I do right? If I want to change how I am grading or assessing if I feel like it's not working, how can I do that? And I know both of us, when we talk to people about the ideas of alternative grading, very often what we'll hear is that sounds really interesting. How do you actually do that? Give me a sense of a model. Give me some practical steps. Or we might hear, that sounds great, but there's no possible way you could do that in my kind of class --

Robert Talbert:
what about this? What about this?

David Clark:

-- And so a big goal of the book is to directly answer that, right? How do you do it? And also to convince people that you can actually use different methods of grading that work and to show models of them successfully working just across disciplines, across types of classes.

Robert Talbert:

And if I could drop one thing on the end of that too, one really important way that I think David are much very much in agreement on is just to tell people you don't have to do anything big. I mean, there's a lot of very simple things you can do. You don't have to throw out your entire syllabus for fall 2023 and start over again if you want to really help your students. So we set up a framework in the book called The Four Pillars Model for alternative Grading. And our message is, if you just take one of those little pieces of the framework and take one positive step along it, that's an amazing win. And so one of the things I think people have really so far responded well to is the idea that small wins are wins. So if you just do one thing, just give clear feedback or write down your learning objectives before you give an exam. Just one thing moves you in the right direction and really serves your students well. You don't have to do it all. In fact, you probably shouldn't try to do it all. If you're thinking about doing this next week, that would be a bad idea.

Eric Mazur:

It's actually right at the beginning of the pandemic, Robert, that I read your blog post on specifications grading. And that has just been transformative for me because I adopted it immediately. I said, this is something I can do when we teach in this very different format where any form of traditional assessment is no longer really very meaningful. And there were a lot of things during the pandemic that were pretty interesting, like you mentioned, teaching online. And I was so excited at the end of the pandemic to see the results I obtained by a teaching online and B, implementing things like specifications grading. And I were thinking, this is going to transform education in a way that we haven't seen in the past 1000 years, so to speak. It was kind of saddening to see that most people went back to the classroom, including me, simply because the president of the university say, you have to be in the classroom. But I can tell you specification grading is one of the things that I retained, and that was definitely a driver for me. Now, you hear a lot lately, and I've had at least one podcast about that on the topic of grading, the opposite of grading or even alternative. So where does that choosing between grading and alternative grading?

Robert Talbert:

Well, I'm laughing because we've had so many conversations about this between us and outside. That's like, okay, so I don't know. Do you want to go first, David? I would say I know what you're going to say, David, and I'll just go ahead and say it for you. You have to understand that different people mean very different things when they say grading. For some people, grading means

Eric Mazur:

Well, but in all fairness, Robert, in all fairness, when people say alternative grading, there are lots of different ways of doing

Robert Talbert:

Alternative. That's true. And some people use the word grading to mean just a synonym for non- traditional grading and an umbrella term. And some people, we have a very specific meaning in our book. Some people have picked this up and said, grading means we're getting rid of all grades whatsoever, including course grades, which is not, I don't think anybody is really advocating for that or some people are advocating for it, but very few people are actually doing it. So job number one, any conversation about grading, you got to come to terms with what we're speaking about. So David, I know probably have something on top of that

Eric Mazur:

Grading.

Robert Talbert:

Well, I can speak can say, and for me personally, and we write this in the book, it's open to interpretation, but grading is a particular form of grading student work in which students do work. That's one misconception we've run into. It's like, well, students aren't working anymore because they're not getting grades. That's not true. Students are still doing work, but no marks are being put on the work. So the word mark, we often use that in place of the word grade because the word grade itself can be pretty ambiguous at times. So you don't mark the work with anything with a point value or a pass fail or anything. You don't mark it at all. You just give feedback to the student. And so on the superstructure side of your course, you have some specifications to, if I can use that word in your syllabus that say, this is what an A looks like.

This is what a B kind of looks like. This is what a C looks like and so forth. And students do this work, they get feedback, and they get to iterate on that work using your feedback to do drafting retts, whatever the case may be for you. And in the end of the course, there's also some touching of base throughout the course C to just keep each other calibrated. Like, oh, you're doing some pretty good work toward an A. You might want to pick up the pace in this area here or do this differently. At the end of the course, the student and the instructor get together collaboratively and look at the descriptions in the syllabus. And typically it's a collaboratively decided grade. I might ask you, Eric's like Eric, looking back over your work in the course, what grade do you think you made and what evidence do you have to support this claim that you made a B plus in the class? And you would show me that work through a portfolio or a discussion or something like that, and we would just kind of talk together and agree on your grade. And that's what un grading is. There's still a grade that's typically given at the end of the course, but it's collaboratively constructed based on a body of work that's been put together through feedback loops over the course of the semester. David, how'd I do on that?

David Clark:

So I agree and I think it's important to say that's what you and I think both agree on when we say grading and that it's really important that different people mean very different things. And some people mean a whole broad philosophy by it. Some people mean this umbrella term. I think there's something interesting to be extracted from this idea that grading in whatever form is such an interesting idea, and it's that grades, whether you use them or not, they provide incentives, they provide guideposts for students, but they also, they tweak the incentives. What are students encouraged to do or not do? And the kind of feedback they get from that makes a difference. But so a big idea behind grading as we understand it is the idea of it's the feedback that really matters the most. And the grades can overshadow that feedback. And if I really want to help a student understand what is it they've learned, what do they need to improve on that, the feedback is the place to focus.

And so let's throw out the bit that's distracting from that, which is a fantastic idea. In practice implementing it successfully can be a big challenge, and so often it's nicer to have more structure surrounding your grading approach to keep something that looks kind of like grades, like Robert said, marks as a set of guideposts still, but that act differently that are still helping with the feedback rather than being this opaque, kind, summative thing. What does seven out 10 even mean? Let's not do that as a grade. Let's do something that's at least more useful as feedback, like progressing successful or just pure feedback on its own.

Eric Mazur:

Yeah. So let me take a step back. You mentioned a moment ago the framework you developed. I think it's in chapter three of your book, if I'm correct, and the four pillars of alternative grading. Can you briefly elaborate on what these four pillars are?

David Clark:

Yeah, absolutely. So a way to think about these is we're taking the ideas of just how humans learn and trying to extract some actionable principles that people can use to make that happen in a education setting. So the first principle is having clearly defined standards. In other words, a clear description of what is it that matters, what is it we're trying to do or understand right now, both for students and instructors, and then helpful feedback on student work. So helpful being sort of the operative word there, but also feedback. So what is it you have succeeded at doing? What is it you could change in terms of those clearly defined standards? The thing we were trying to do? And then if you're going to put a mark or a grade on student work at all, it really should be something that indicates progress towards meeting those clearly defined standards.

So something like progressing or this is exemplary or it needs to be revised rather than that opaque seven out of 10 type grade that doesn't really directly communicate the feedback. And then finally, the thing that really lets students close the feedback loop try again and show what they've learned is when we call attempts without penalty, which means that students have opportunities to show what they've learned in terms of those clearly defined standards. And if it takes them multiple opportunities to do that, that's okay. And they aren't penalized for needing multiple chances that their ultimate level of understanding counts fully without averaging in previous attempts or earlier work. And so those are essentially a way to take these ideas of how people learn and turn 'em into something useful in your own grading practice.

Eric Mazur:

That's very interesting. So a lot of my podcast lately from equity-minded teaching to improving mental health and education have all come down to the same thing. And I think I'm hearing it between the lines and what you're saying too, namely promoting intrinsic motivation to learn. And it seems that it also underlines improving our approaches to grading. I mean, the numerical, the dry numerical ranking that you were just referring to, David takes away the desire to learn. So what are your thoughts on the role of intrinsic motivation and how should one evaluate it? What one does in education in light of trying to promote intrinsic motivation to learn?

David Clark:

Absolutely. So I think having intrinsic motivation to learn things is a very natural human quality. People want to learn. People are interested in things, and if we get out of the way, then they do. And they absolutely are interested in learning a wide variety of things in our classes as well. And so in many ways, a goal of alternative grading is that getting out of the way, aligning with how humans want to be naturally, rather than putting weird incentives in the way where we try to motivate them extrinsically through grades rather than saying, Hey, learning is a thing you're going to do. Let me encourage that in this light touch grading that I add in. One thing that students tell us a lot in interviews and in evaluations and things like that is that they feel in alternatively graded classes, they feel like they can focus on learning. They feel like they have the room or the space to focus on learning. And so they don't tend to use the word intrinsic motivation, I think because more of a term of art, but that's what they're talking about. They're saying, yeah, I actually, I cared about the learning. I could focus on the learning and I wanted to learn. And you're hearing just the human aspect coming through there rather than the playing the game aspect.

Robert Talbert:

Yeah. Some of my students too, David, say things like, I feel like I could finally breathe in this class. The weight of trying to hit all these marks literally hit all these marks. It's removed. I mean, it communicates that the kind of relationship that David wants to have with all of our students, which is we want you to succeed. I mean, we want you to grow. And you say, Eric, you say you're drawing the distinguishing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. A lot of grading doesn't even start with motivation at all. I mean, we grade because we want to rank because the law school up the road expects us, I got this yesterday in a workshop, the resistance to doing alternative grading because the law school that most of the graduates go to expects and looks for a specific grade distribution from this undergraduate institution, if they don't have that grade distribution, right, then they don't believe that they're producing good students. It's not even about motivation. So even going into extrinsic motivation would be a positive step for some of these folks. But getting students to really love learning, they already do. Like David said, I mean students already are good at a lot of really interesting things that required commitment, sacrifice, hard work, and they had to really put themselves through it and work through it because they loved what they were doing, they just enjoyed it. We want that for everybody, and that's all about breaking down those barriers to make that happen.

Eric Mazur:

So you hear a lot about gamifying learning and so on. And you just mentioned the word game. David sort of triggered a memory that can't resist recounting. Here I run something called the learning incubator at Harvard, which is sort of a community by faculty for faculty to promote the scholarship of learning and teaching. And we invite speakers and I thought if we could to learn from game designers what their take is on game designing. And I invited Annette Zo from Stanford to come and give a talk. And that talk totally rocked my world for the following reason. Reason I had invited her thinking maybe we can learn from a game designer how to improve learning. But right at the beginning of the talk, she asked the audience the question, what do game designers do to improve their games? How do you capture the human mind and how do you make people come back to a game over and over again? She said, what you have to build in a well-designed game is learning. People come back if they feel they learn a skill or progress to a next level. So in a sense, thinking about building in gaming into learning is putting the cart in front of the horse. It's the other way around. It's the learning. And that is,

Robert Talbert:
That's an awesome point.

Eric Mazur:

That is what you just said so beautifully, David, that we're intrinsically wired to learn, and when we take our first breath, we don't start learning because somebody's giving us grade. We start learning it because our mind needs it. So I've always found it very interesting, and that's why I asked my question about intrinsic motivational learning. I really think that that might well underlie all good educational design. So you mentioned briefly resistance from institutions and from colleagues. How have your students responded to alternative grading?

Robert Talbert:

The vast majority of my students readily accept alternative grading, and I have almost never had to work to get buy-in from them. Now, I mean, it's different for different people. Okay, white male people. It's different if you're a woman professor for example, because people, I don't know why that is. It's just a horrible fact of academia. But for me personally, once I do kind of like what David said and just tie it back into, you already know how to learn and you already know how it works. So I do this activity on the first day of class where I ask students, what is something that you're good at doing? And then how did you become good at it? And once they tie it back to something like, I'm really good at snowboarding, or I'm really good at playing the bass or whatever, and I got that way through feedback loops. So for me, learning and feedback loops

Eric Mazur:
Really, not from lecturing

Robert Talbert:

No, they never say lecturing. It's the weirdest. They'll often say, I had a really good teacher. If you're learning to play the bass, it's really helpful to have a good teacher. But the best teachers, when I drill in, I was like, what made that teacher so good? It's never, while they had awesome lectures or they had really clear videos online or whatever, it was always the teacher gave me great feedback, could really look at me personally and watch my hand positions or whatever and say, well, you need to put your hand here. And then opened that unlocked all this stuff I could do. Now it's always, students know perfectly well how they learn things, and all we're trying to do is say, we want geometry to be as joyful of an experience for you as snowboarding or playing the guitar or baking cookies or whatever it is you're good at doing.

Now, you will have students who are high performing type A type students who are literally type A, who are so used to getting A's in all their classes by playing school and playing the game and getting the right points over here and the right points over here to make it just barely work out with minimum effort. That's gone now to get an A in David's class or in my class, I mean, I feel like you have to do a lot more high level work now really to earn that because everything is based on concrete, actual evidence of learning. It's not lucky. Breaks on points. Those students resist sometimes, but then you can finally get through to them. I feel like you can finally get through to them and say, look, all we're trying to do here is help you learn. Okay, don't you want to learn?

I mean, differential equations if you're going to be an engineer, I mean, isn't this something you want to do? If it's not something you want to do, then maybe there's a bigger discussion to have. Maybe I don't want you building the bridge I'm driving across. If you really, really hate calculus. I mean, I don't know. It's something to do with that. So there is pushback that we get, but oftentimes the biggest proponents are the other students in the class. They are the ones who drive the bus and they're the ones going to the downstream faculty, in fact, where I'm situated and saying like, Hey, when I took differential equations from Talbert, we have this amazing system. Why don't we have something like that? They're the ones who are really advocating for the change, where sometimes faculty can be a little timid about that.

Eric Mazur:
David, then you're quick experience with student's reaction.

David Clark:

Yeah, very similar. It's very positive, and it's the sort of thing where when a student experiences what alternative grading can feel like and sort of how it feels to be able to focus on the learning and not have to worry about playing the game that they absolutely love it. It's a thing that they absolutely buy into, but sometimes, ironically, you are fighting against what's basically a learned behavior of students who are so used to playing the game of grades and of extrinsic motivation that they have internalized that they feel that that is a key part of who they are and how they succeed and breaking through that. I mean, a student who breaks through that and is like, oh, yeah, right, right. I'm here to learn things. They absolutely become the biggest fan of these things. And students who have traditionally had difficulty with being penalized by partial credit or by averaging or so on, absolutely buy into it. Love it. And like Robert said, downstream, they want to see this more of this because they know how good it is for them.

Eric Mazur:

I think I want to end with one question that in one form or another I use in every podcast, and that's that. If there's one simple thing, emphasis on simple, that our listeners could do, and I'm using the action verb, do here on purpose right away, like tomorrow or today to move towards alternative grading, what would that be? What's a good first step? Short.

Robert Talbert:

Write down your learning objectives for your next lesson in terms of concrete action verbs. So pillar number one is having clear standards for content. Write 'em down to clarify them for yourself. Don't use words like no, appreciate and understand action verbs like actual, you said doing. What are students going to do to demonstrate knowledge and keep it short and then give that to your students. That's a great first step. Even if you don't do anything more, that's a great first step.

David Clark:

I'm going to say, give students feedback that is actionable and expect them to use that. So think of the feedback, not as justification for taking off a point, but I want to see you succeed. And so I'm going to tell you about, this is what I'd like you to do or how I'd like you to change it, and then maybe find a way to take advantage of that to let them actually show you their learning, but focus on feedback in that way. Here's how I'd like you to succeed.

Eric Mazur:

Well, I'd like to conclude by thanking you for listening and thanking our guests, Robert Dalbert and David Clark. Thank you so much for being here today.

Robert Talbert:
Thanks a lot, Eric. It's a pleasure.

David Clark:
It has been great to be here.

Eric Mazur:

Their book Grading for Growth is available from Routledge, but if you're listening today, I have some very exciting news for you. You can join Perusall and Routledge publishing for a four week asynchronous communal reading experience of Robert and David's new book. This is an author facilitated event, so for a nominal fee, you not only get access to the book, but you'll be reading and interacting with Robert and David and other like-minded educators like me, for example, and you'll be brainstorming how to improve your assessment and grading practices in your course. To learn more, go to perusall.com/engage. You can find our Social Learning Amplified podcast and more on perusall.com/sociallearningamplified one. Subscribe to find out about other episodes. I hope to welcome you back on a future one. Social Learning Amplified is sponsored by Perusall, the social learning platform that motivates students by increasing engagement, driving collaboration, and building community through your favorite course content. To learn more, join us at one of our introductory webinars. Visit Perusall.com to learn more and register.

 

 

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