Of the four classes I am taking this semester (three one-hour classes and one three-hour class), I have finished the work in three. That means I have just one more class to finish, and I will be done with the semester. Hopefully I can tidy that up this weekend and finish early.
I expect to earn A’s on my grade report. I have been able to keep up with my grades online through Blackboard and a separate interface the ITMA program uses for grade reporting and assignment submission (having three different interfaces to work with is clunky and is something I think the program needs to address). Three of the A’s I expect to earn really don’t mean much to me. I did a modest amount of work to earn them. In the case of one class, the assignments were a waste of time. I can’t say I learned a lot. In one class, I worked quite hard and feel proud of the A because it was not easy to earn. I also feel I learned a lot in that class.
You know, I really, really hate grades. I have been thinking about writing a book about assessment and grades. Grades are a subject that interest me a great deal. I hate the fact that grades are what motivates some students to learn — that unless there’s a grade attached, it isn’t worthwhile to some students. I hate it that I spend a long time on feedback and some students turn to the grade and ask why did I get this? instead of reading the feedback, which would make the grade clear.
I really like working with my students, and it’s so exciting when I can tell they’re truly interested in something, and they want to learn it for the sake of learning it. I find it frustrating that no matter how engaging my lessons might be (not every day, probably, but I hope they are most of the time) that some students will never be motivated by anything other than a grade.
A colleague of mine once described grades as both the carrot and the stick, and truer words were never spoken. We use grades to punish kids who don’t do the work, and to reward those who do, even if they are only doing it for the grade. I wonder what school would look like without grades. I know it’s possible. I know schools have done it.
I don’t know what made me go off on that rant. I suppose I feel frustrated by my own school experience. I have four A’s. I worked to earn one of those A’s. I didn’t learn much. The grade doesn’t feel like much of a reward. I’d rather have learned a lot. For what it’s worth, I hear the program gets better. Here’s hoping. I am taking Principles of Instructional Design, Instructional Media, and Digital Audio next semester.