One pedagogical bandwagon that I’ve been happy to board is the move to rethink assessment. How do we teach in such a way that evaluation is a means rather than an ends in the learning process? Educator Robert Talbert has been moving from traditional grading to specifications grading in his STEM courses at Grand Valley State University. I’m not too familiar with the model, but I like what he’s getting at:
The conversations I’ve had with students have not been about points but about math – occasionally, about work habits and how to manage tasks and projects in order to get one’s work done. But these are good conversations, not loser conversations about how many points one has to earn on the final exam to get a B for the class. I am hopeful that it will change the way students think about themselves too – not as passive bystanders but as intentional actors in their education.
Richard Newton, PhD is curator of Sowing the Seed and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown College. His scholarship focuses on the anthropology of scriptures.