Thursday, November 08, 2007

Something Else Hard About Grading

Since I'm preoccupied about grading these days, I thought I would note something else that I find hard about grading: giving bad grades to students I like.

Since I like all of my students, this means that giving bad grades at all is always painful to me.


  1. I agree, but I try to remind myself of two things. The first is that grades are feedback, and that it's deeply important for students to get accurate feedback if they're going to learn. The second is that the grade isn't an indictment of them, either as people or students; it's a measure of their degree of success on a single assignment (or in a single semester).

  2. I think one of the things that makes it especially painful to give bad grades is the importance that's often placed on grades -- by admissions (for students who hope to transfer), by grad schools, etc. For many students, it is a crisis to get a B in a class -- and this is a lot of pressure, for everyone involved.

    I think we might be better off if we could (somehow) shift importance from the grades and back to the learning itself. I have taught in schools with narrative evaluations, rather than grades, and this is exactly what happens. The impetus is no longer on scores and grades. As a result, the focus shifts to the quality of the learning -- which changes everything.