Every time I sit to write about my teaching, it feels like a confession. For 5 semesters, I have sinned against better judgement, and based my grading on what must seem to some as pure whimsey. Of course, the syllabus says evaluation will be  “based upon adherence to directions, expression of design principles, technical proficiency, creativity, as well as individual progress.” Clearly stated, ambiguously delivered.

My lack of hard criteria led to some highly subjective grading, led by the senses and sense of the student’s progress, and I was and still am generally generous. There were a few I judged especially harshly that I can still recall, and it is true I don’t know if I was very fair. It’s not a science, video making. Thankfully, it’s an art.

90% of the work is video projects and assignments. I give directions, and I judge if the moving pictures and sound fulfill it. The skills assignments are simpler, as they are fairly straightforward. Judging some of the more free-wheeling creative projects is, well… I know good work when I see it. OR so I think.

THIS semester I have FINALLY crossed the Rubricon.

painting of caesar crossing the rubicon, with letter grades pinned to the each soldier

I managed to come up with consistent criteria for skills assignments, and I am using this one rubric for all of them. It’s pretty general, and it’s working pretty well so far. And wow is grading easier and faster. The lack of specificity that such a generalized rubric offers does make it tricky when a crit sort of describes what happened in the video, but not exactly. And it’s hard to stick to it when I end up grading by the rubric and still feel that it deserves a higher or lower grade. Yes, father, I have fudged at times.

The big plus has been having clarity, especially when a student questions their grade, as they did today. I can point to the directions and the rubric and the points in the box. The downside of this emphasis on measurement is they only do the minimum. I haven’t figured out the motivation to excel yet. Encouragement isn’t enough for the majority of students.

The other downside is this quick click rubric schtick. Boom boom boom, save, and the grading is done and justified. I don’t feel the same necessity to explain my reasoning in  detail,  as when I didn’t have as much to go on, and so I would explain and explain every high and low. Past feedback was lugubrious. Now it’s a bit off the cuff, citing a few things here and there, to assure them I am watching. The speedgrader lives up to its name, but personal feedback from the teacher is the heart of my class, and I mean to keep it deep for projects.

Grading is an art, too?



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October 11, 2018 · 8:31 am

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