Sunday, June 21, 2015

Extend learning by NOT using grades

When a grade is given, the learning stops.

When specific feedback is provided and extending questions are asked, the learning goes deeper.

We've all heard statements like these before, and for the most part, many tend to agree with the basic premise behind these statements. However, our actions don't always align with our beliefs, and sometimes our beliefs don't always make it into the actual structures of our classrooms.

Imagine these three scenarios when it comes to grades and giving students feedback:

Scenario 1: Teacher hands back an assignment with just a grade.

Scenario 2: Teacher hands back an assignment with specific feedback and perhaps a couple extending questions WITH a grade.

Scenario 3: Teacher hands back an assignment with specific feedback and two extending questions WITHOUT a grade.

What tends to happen... in scenario 1, the student looks at the grade and then crumples up the assignment to work on his/her basketball career. In scenario 2, the same thing happens and more than likely, the student doesn't even acknowledge the feedback and questions. In scenario 3, the student is curious and the student wants to know more, thus the learning process remains alive and in most instances, strengthens.

More often than not though, scenario 1 is what we find in our schools.

But, we know based on research and based on overall student retention of information and development of skills, students perform far better in scenario 3.

So, I'd like to challenge all educators (in all positions within education, administrators included), to work on providing specific feedback with extending questions rather than simply a grade and/or quantitative evaluation.

This takes time and isn't always the most efficient, but in the long run, it surely will be the most effective...