Peter Elbow is awesome

I am busy preparing for classes, but I want to post something here so that I can find it later: Peter Elbow writes about “minimal grading,” which is essentially the wheel that I am reinventing. Enjoy the article.

(hat tip to Angela Vierling-Claassen, who tweeted the article)

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2 Responses to “Peter Elbow is awesome”

  1. Adam Glesser Says:

    Something bothered me with this line:

    “Why not instead be more direct with a contract and just, as it were, make them do the things that we think will lead to learning? I would rather put my effort into trying to figure out which activities will lead to learning than into trying to measure the exact quality of the final product students turn in.”

    One of the cool parts of SBG is letting the students determine which of their activities lead to learning. I figure that I can make suggestions, even run class activities that I think will be beneficial, but—ultimately—shouldn’t it be up to the student to determine which activities will get him/her to mastery?

    • bretbenesh Says:

      I can see both sides. I agree with Elbow that the instructor is in a position to create good learning opportunities. I think that the students aren’t always able to do this, since they do not know what they do not know, and therefore can’t always be able to predict what will lead to good learning.

      I agree with you, on the other hand, that it is generally a good idea to let students decide how to show off what they have already learned.

      So I agree with Elbow about the learning, but I agree with you about the assessment.

      First, do you disagree? Did I misrepresent anything that you said?

      Second, have you been actively doing this in your classes? It is an ideal for me to let the students decide what to do more (with respect to assessment, anyway), but I still largely determine things for them.

      In case I misinterpreted what you said: Do you let them choose what will help them learn, too? If so, what does that look like? What choices do they make about how to get themselves to learn? Bret

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