Rethinking Grading: Exploring Alternatives to Conventional Assessment
We invite submissions for a Special Session Roundtable at PAMLA 2022, to be held in Los Angeles, CA from November 11-13, 2022.
So often, the practice of grading student writing feels quotidian, but must it? How might we make it fantastic–for both ourselves and our students? This roundtable will convene a conversation about alternatives to conventional grading. We welcome proposals on grading contracts, ungrading techniques, student-generated rubrics, anti-racist approaches to assessment, and more. Contributions may be empirical, theoretical, applied, and/or reflective, including but not limited to reporting research results, theorizing methods for alternative assessment, and describing successes/challenges in implementing new assessment practices. Further, we are excited to discuss the impacts of these practices on students, instructors, and institutions.
The field of Rhetoric & Composition has long been skeptical of grading student writing, particularly of the traditional letter grade as the signifier of quality and assessment. Those of us responsible for assessing student work often find the quotidian practice of grading written work to be not merely labor-intensive and time-consuming, but emotionally challenging and disruptive to our long-term goals in the classroom. In fact, the NCTE came out strongly in the 1990s against grading student work. And yet, despite the reservations and objections of instructors themselves, the letter grade persists, supported by institutional necessity and student desire.
Inspired by groundbreaking texts such as Asao B. Inoue’s Labor-Based Grading Contracts and Susan D. Blum’s Ungrading, this roundtable will host a discussion of alternatives to conventional assessments of students’ writing. In connection to PAMLA’s 2022 conference theme, we consider grading–an evaluation of students’ facility with language, rhetoric, and composition–as a fraught geography with material consequences for the well-being of both students and instructors. We believe that the goals of writing instruction may be better served by exploring innovative ways to reimagine our approaches to assessing student work.
From January 2021 through May 2022, faculty members and students within the University of Southern California’s Writing Program have been participating in a large study of grading contracts in upper-division writing courses. During this roundtable session, our research team will present the results of this study, based on data gathered from 20+ instructors and 600+ students in 72 sections of Advanced Writing. We are eager to share the impacts the grading contract has had on our learning community and to expand this conversation to others’ experiences with contract grading as well as to additional alternatives to conventional grading.
We seek proposals that:
- Focus on grading contracts, ungrading techniques, student-generated rubrics, anti-racist approaches to assessment, and other innovative assessment strategies;
- Make empirical, theoretical, and/or applied contributions, including but not limited to reporting research results, proposing methods for alternative assessment, and describing successes/challenges in implementing new assessment practices;
- Assess the impacts of innovative assessments on students, instructors, and institutions; and/or
- Theorize how and when to synthesize alternative methods of assessment with traditional methods.
TO SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT TO THIS PAMLA SPECIAL SESSION, VISIT: https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/Home/S/18554
Please contact Tamara Black (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.