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
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.
- A sequence of assignments paced more or less as in syllabus, often revised
thoroughly and with new thinking in response to comments.
- A project that is innovative, well planned and carried out with considerable
initiative, and indicates that you can guide others to think critically about the use of
numbers in society.
- A project report that is clear and well structured,with supporting references
and detail, and professionally presented.
- Active, prepared participation in all classes.
- Completion of most preparatory and follow-up homework tasks.
- Process Review that shows deep reflection on your development through the
semester and maps out the future directions in which you plan to develop.