SoTL #2 – Engage with SoTL

This is a rehash of my post on negotiated grading, but perhaps I’ll get into more of the idea behind it and less focused on the technical aspects of how it works in the class.

I think there is an issue with feedback. I had papers that I put a huge amount of work into, and I handed them in on time, and waited for the verdict. I clearly remember getting back a paper and was surprised to see my professor had written more than I had on the paper. Naturally, I flipped to the last page, read my mark, and was much less worried about deciphering every chicken scratch comment in the margins of my masterpiece. I could live with the grade, lets all move on. I think this is just how things work, I hand it in, I get a grade, and probably end up accepting it and moving on.

But what did I learn from that experience? Really take away? This routine changed dramatically when I took a course with a paper that never ends. Meaning, in the first week you hand in a paper, the professor hands is back to you with comments, and you resubmit it again, and again, and again. In fact the entire semester was spent reading the tiny scrawl in red ink all over my paper and trying to integrate, edit, learn and apply something new. More than anything that went on in the class, this process of writing, editing and re-editing helped me become a better writer.

I think this is what motivated me to try a feedback focused grading approach which allows for, and encourages resubmission. Maybe the subject of the assignment is not all that complex or challenging, but will a business analysis in real life be taken seriously if it has grammar, spelling or logical flaws? Probably not. What students take away from this experience is that little is perfect the first time, and it sometimes takes editing, or at least proofreading, before your work is ready for the big show.

With colleagues interested in exploring this idea, we have been thinking about how it can be applied, what the implications are, and discovering what students think of this process. From what I have seen so far this semester, students work is improving with each go around, they are happy with grades that reflect their progress, and are working with an iterative agile approach that reflects how projects are carried out in the real world. As we go forward, it will be interesting to think about the process both from within the program, as well as reflexively, how it impacts my teaching goals.

activity business calculation chart
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