How One Weird Finding Changed My Perspective on Grades
Arthur Chiaravalli

Arthur, as a University professor I battle with grades all the time. I battled with them as a student, and now I battle with having to provide them as the main source of feedback in a 12 week course. I’ve tried alternatives (students marking each other’s assignments) with some success, but ultimately everyone (student, parents, funding agencies, grad studies departments, and futureMSc and PhD supervisors want a number that allows them to “evaluate” how well the student leaned.

Several years ago I was involved in a “block” program teaching initiative whereby students took courses as 2.5 week modules, each module running independent of the others. There were still grades given in the end, but the retention of information between modules, and throughout the careers of the students was remarkable. There’s more to this argument than trying to determine how best to evaluate students. I think we need to go deeper and rethink how we teach them if we expect them to truly “learn.”

Finally, I also would like to extend my appreciation to you for using my Flickr image for your article. Moreover, much appreciation for adding the photo credit. Sadly, Flickr doesn’t track such activities, but another member was kind enough to post a link to your page.



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