Problems With Traditional Grading: A Refocus On Assessing 'UP'

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Introduction


Kay Burke states in her book How to Assess: Authentic Learning, that “for assessments to become an integral part of the instructional process, teachers need to change their approach in three important ways: They must (1) use assessments as sources of information for both students and teachers, (2) follow assessments with high-quality corrective instruction, and (3) give students second chances to demonstrate success”(Evaluation, 1).

One of the problems with modern assessment techniques is that teachers are hard pressed to incorporate all 3 of the above processes. Our group felt that this is because there is an inherit flaw in the assessment system. This flaw is the direction in which the assessment takes place.

It is not the practices themselves that have to change, we know those work. What is majorly needed is slight change in direction. As educators we need to begin “assessing up”. This means starting every student at zero and having them build towards their desired grade throughout the year. This way grades become a positive thing rather than a constant reminder that you didn't achieve 100%.

Within this wiki our group has developed an approach that we feel addresses and builds upon all 3 of these main points of assessment.

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1. Assessment Technique: Experience Points Based Learning


Description

One form of assessment that can be used when other traditional styles fall short can be found in one of the most popular media forms, video games. Education is in fact one of the last of the great institutions to capitalize on games as a means of educating and assessment. In fact “Nearly all institutions– business, industry, medicine, science and government – have harnessed aspects of these technologies for decades. Games and simulations have been a key component of training doctors and military personnel" (Mit, 2). As an alternative form of assessment educators can implement the use of games, or more specifically an experience point based grading system, in order to motivate and assess their students.


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A player "leveling up" in W.O.W.
What is an experience point based grading system?
Some video games such as World of Warcraft provide a seemingly open ended forum of exploration wherein players can attempt many different tactics in order to reach a desired conclusion, within a set of specific parameters outlined by the game. As players explore the world they are motivated to do so through quests or missions wherein experience points are awarded for completing puzzles or a desired task. These points are then implemented to increase the player’s maximum level, which then unlocks helpful skills or abilities and in turn furthers their overall progress within the game.

So in contrast to the current assessment practices in education the introduction of an experience points based system makes a great deal of sense. Especially if you look at how progress allows students to naturally develop upwards and forwards. Some assessment practices begin with the assumption that the student has 100% at the beginning of a new term or course. So by using experience points and moving forward, instead of seeing the 100% they began the course with dwindle, a student can see their grade progress naturally as they get results for the work submitted.

Or in other words they work towards obtaining 100%, or the equivalent level through engaging themselves with the assignments provided.

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What Does It Solve?

There are 3 major problems with grading according to Alfie Kohn. The experienced point based approach deals with them, and offers corrections for them all as well.

1. “Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself”(Alfiekhon.org). As Lee Sheldon, a professor from the University of Indiana, states: By using a game based approach “the elements of the class are couched in terms they [the students] understand, terms that are associated with fun rather than education" (switched.com). Because the class itself is outlined as a game students will no doubt be more engaged and therefore more interested in learning.

2.“Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks”(Alfiekhon.org). With an experience points based assessment approach students are encouraged to take on tasks in order to further their grade, not lower it. The bigger the assignment, or more assignments that they complete, the more experience they will gain, and therefore the better their overall grade will be. As Sheldon again states: “’I think you need to make it very clear to people about what the expectations are with regards to performance.’ In other words, if a student or worker performs a certain way, they will rack up experience and move forward”(switched.com).

3. “Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking” (Alfiekhon.org). In an experienced based assessment, it is not the process that is graded but the overall outcome. Students are given the tools but have the freedom to explore their own way of achieving a conclusion in an assignment. Teamwork is encouraged and classmates can even go so far as to form groups, or “guilds” in order to improve their chances of completion. This introduces an influx of ideas and generates more positive and independent thinking.

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Problems in using it

While this approach does address and correct some of the approaches of assessment there are obviously pit falls and shortcomings.Here is a list of problems in implementing it.

1.For it to be incredibly motivational the educator themselves must be immersed within it. It is time consuming. In order to give students a feel of overall freedom within the parameters set by the teacher, a lot of work and thought must be put in.

2. in order to reach maximum effectiveness, the assessment technique must be used at length and not for just one assignment. It could reach maximum efficiency within a unit or perhaps even 3 units.

3. If your students were not on board the exercise would fail miserably.

4. Planning. Planning out activities that focus on SLO's while still giving students enough flexibility to choose a unique learning pathway.

5. The quality of assignments handed in. You cannot award points based solely on completion, because the learning within the exercise would then be mute. A criteria must be laid out that focus on a desired answer or outcome of a project.

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How it can be Implemented

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An example of how experience points work

Overall a tactic such as this could be implemented quite easily. The longer it is used the more powerful the effect. For example it could be used to motivate students during a particular boring unit, such as the French Revolution. By setting the maximum level of points for the unit at 750 and creating 14 varied assignments within your unit worth 50xp each (or any variation, such as a 200xp video project) you can translate those points easily into grades.
For instance:

F – 99 points and below
D – 100 points
C – 250 points
B – 450 points
A – 750 points

Through that one simple shift, a change in motivation is achieved, the same end letter grade can be achieved, and students will become more engaged with their progress overall.


There are in fact two excellent and working real world examples of this practice in place within the current educational system.

3235761348_d2dc011c69_m.jpg1. The first can be found within a school in New York known as Quest to Learn. The New York Quest to Learn school uses class and grade specific based “missions” that overarch a 4 week long “Quest”, or particular unit. At the end of that quest there is a 1 week boss fight that draws from experiences from all the earlier missions (or assignments) in order to complete the boss fight quest.
The website can be found here:

2. The second example can be seen through Lee Sheldon, a University of Indiana professor, and his successful transformation of his grading system into an experience based classroom. A guide to make Sheldon style syllabus can be found here



Taking it Further

A further dedicated educator could take this practice to the next level(no pun intended) by adding skills such as the ability to omit a test question, extend a due date, or add 5% overall to an assignment. As well the teacher could introduce class wide achievements such as if 10 students reach level 15 every student gains 250xp. Or if a higher level student provides assistance to a lower level student on an assignment or project the higher level student could obtain 10% more xp overall. Through using ideas like this a more communal relationship would be encouraged in the class. Those who were not at the top would be rooting for those who were and those who were excelling would further there learning through helping there peers. But these ideas are for a more in depth class use and would require some initial feedback before implementing.

So by changing the grading style overall there would be a more engaging form of education for students and a varied approach to assessment.

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References for Section 1

i. http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2010/03/build-your-own-sheldon-syllabus.html
ii. http://www.switched.com/2010/03/26/prof-subs-grades-for-experience-points-presentations-with-quest/
iii. http://www.q2l.org/purpose
iv. http://education.mit.edu/papers/GamesSimsSocNets_EdArcade.pdf
v. http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm
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2. Assessment Technique: Leveling up your KSA


Another potential way to implement the EXP grading system into your classroom is to assign types of points for different learning objectives. Instead of leveling up your magic by learning new spells, or your strength by defeating 10 enemies, students can level up their knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

By demonstrating certain learning objectives within assignments students can receive points according to the categorization of the particular objective. For example, a knowledge objective could be the following:

  1. Students will state the safety rules for the physics lab.

By demonstrating competency towards this objective the student can receive EXP towards their knowledge, leveling up as they go.

This concept can also be applied to Bloom’s taxonomy. It may be desirable to keep track of levels that students are receiving the most EXP so you can focus on helping them complete tasks in their areas of weakness. Using Bloom’s original taxonomy the categories would be: Knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The possibilities for categorizing EXP are endless and will vary depending on the subject and grade level you are teaching. Be creative and use your best judgment to design your own fair method of rewarding points and tracking progress. Or have the students decide the categories. The point of incorporating EXP is to make school more fun for the student and the teacher.



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3. Assessment technique: Self-Assessing to Learn
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With self assessment kids can work towards becoming greater people.


Description

Self-evaluation is another type of assessment designed to eliminate the identified problems with traditional grading. By giving input to the students they are encouraged to take more responsibility for their goals and they begin to see a correlation between effort and learning outcomes.





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How does this give students more EXP?

According to Kansas State University one of the disadvantages of using self-assessment is that students may abuse their power. Enormous pressures for high grades make honesty difficult. In order to eliminate this problem we must eliminate the grade from the assessment. In an EXP based system the students would not be utilizing self-assessment to receive a mark or even points. The assessment would focus on reflection and would play a vital role for the student to track their progress and set learning goals to level up.


A simple way to integrate this into a unit using the EXP marking system would be to implement it when a quest was failed, that is to say an assignment or test was not completed to an acceptable standard to level up. Before the student can attempt to retry the quest they must complete a reflection with regard to their previous attempt. Submitting this will allow the teacher to give guidance and it will encourage the student to take responsibility for their own goals.

According to the ACC publication Refocus Ready, Teacher feedback about student work should have 3 steps:
  1. Recognition of the desired goal
  2. Evidence of the present position
  3. Knowledge about how to close the gap between the two

The student must address all 3 steps before they can continue learning and eventually level up.
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References for section 2


http://www.aac.ab.ca/Refocus/refocus-ready.html
http://www.k-state.edu/catl/teach/gtahandbook/altgrade.htm


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Part 2. EXP as Assessment FOR Learning


Assessment for learning is an integral part of any teachers toolkit. It is not used to evaluate learning but to help learners learn better. Using assessment for learning helps both students and teachers establish learning goals and criteria, while also identifying areas that need improvement.

Assessing up using the EXP system can easily utilize assessment for learning techniques. Imagine you are a student in a class using the EXP system. You have been leveling up by completing assignments within a certain unit and you feel ready fight the boss, that is, write the unit test. Depending on the work you have already done you will be coming into this fight with certain knowledge, skills and attributes. For purposes of this example we will pretend you have rushed through the unit and are attempting the test with minimal skills. You fight the boss… and lose. What happens next is a unique opportunity for you and your teacher to evaluate your learning. The process is outlined below:

  1. The teacher evaluates your performance identifying your strengths and areas of improvement.
  2. The student receives feedback and is required to undergo a self-evaluation addressing the 3 steps outlined above in the self assessment section.
  3. Focusing on improvement the student attempts more quests (assignments or activities) to gain EXP and add to their skill set.
  4. After showing improvement the student may fight the boss again.

To make this experience unique, I suggest that the boss adapts and learns from the student as well. That is the test is modified to focus on the areas that the student needs improvement. This will discourage students from attempting to try tests before they are ready because the test will continually adapt and focus on their weakness.

By giving your students feedback instead of degrading them after every test you eliminate a lot of the pressure facing students. This allows them to partake in honest reflections and focus more on learning. It is all about helping students to reach the required learning objectives rather than moving on and expecting a turnaround on the final exam.

1.Description. One form of assessment that can be used when other traditional styles fall short can be found in one of the most popular media forms, video games. Education is in fact one of the last of the great institutions to capitalize on games as a means of educating and assessment. In fact “Nearly all institutions– business, industry, medicine, science and government – have harnessed aspects of these technologies for decades. Games and simulations have been a key component of training doctors and military personnel, but even businesses like PricewaterhouseCoopers used a game about a mining company in outer space to teach its employees about derivatives” (Mit, 2).
This is a resource with boundless potential that could have great success in the classroom. In essence, as an alternative form of assessment, educators can implement the use of games, or more specifically an experience point based grading system, in order to motivate and assess their students. Some video games such as World of Warcraft provide a seemingly open ended forum of exploration wherein players can attempt many different tactics in order to reach a desired conclusion, within a set of specific parameters outlined by the game. As players explore the world they are motivated to do so through quests or missions wherein experience points are awarded for completing puzzles, or a desired task. These points are then implemented to increase the player’s maximum level, which then unlocks helpful skills or abilities and in turn further their overall progress within the game
blue_line_display_white_background_3column00_nospace_landscape.jpg
So in contrast to the current assessment practices in education the introduction of an experience points based system makes a great deal of sense. Especially if you look at how progress develops as it is a system of moment that goes naturally up. Current assessment practices begin with the assumption that the student has 100% at the beginning of a new term or course. Instead of seeing the 100% they began the course with dwindle; a student can see their grade progress naturally as they put the work in. Or in other words they work towards obtaining 100% through engaging themselves with the assignments provided.2.Why is it used/what solutions does it solve/what problem with assessment does it address

4. Assessment Technique: Competency Based Education

What is Competency Based Education

Competency based education (CBE) is a teaching style that measures student performance. It does so in a way where students demonstrate their competency in a lesson, rather than relying on a system of traditional grading. In this style of teaching, clear goals are established with students before a lesson or unit is taught. Students are then able to provide input as to what they believe are fair expectations. In this way the expectations of the students are clear and established before a lesson is ever taught. It is possible then in this system for there to be any number of objectives students are expected to meet, and at varying levels of difficulty.

Another key feature of competency-based education is that it allows for differentiated learning. Students are able to work at their own pace, and are allowed attempts to meet goals multiple times. A number of scholars believe that this is the key to competency based education being used successfully.[1] Therefore, the key differences from regular assessment to those practices in a CBE system are:
(1) students are allowed to give input as to what they are expected to learn,
(2) students can work at their own pace, and attempt to complete the assessment multiple times, and
(3) students are not given a traditional grade based on a perntage of how well tehy have done, but instead have to show that they understand and have mastered as sill before they can move on.

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Incorporating CBE into an Experience Based Classroom
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CBE allows students to choose their own level of difficulty for an assignment in order to excel within it.


Competency based education has the potential to go hand-in-hand with experienced based grading. These systems of grading compliment each other, as both allow for differentiated learning. For instance Concord High School has introduced a system of CBE with a grading system set on a scale from 1-5. This system could be incorporated into the experience based grading by awarding more, or less, experience points depending on whether or not a student has mastered a skill, and demonstrated competency beyond the minimum standard, or simply met the minimum requirements. This would also serve to further motivate students. Another advantage of this combination is the students become aware of their learning goals and why they are performing the assignments they are.

For example these systems could be put into practice into an eighth grade science class. If the experience-based system has already been incorporated, and students have become familiar with it, a competency-based system could be implemented quite easily. For this example we will use the same system as before, where students design their own syllabus. The only difference is that when the assignment is explained, the learning outcomes will also be explained. To do this efficiently there will be the same discussion that would normally occur with competency based grading, and standards will be set for the assignment. At this time the difference between an acceptable project and an outstanding project will be explained, as well as the difference in experience points for each level.

Not only will this engage students in their learning outcomes, but it will also motivate students to exceed the minimum standard, and be rewarded with more experience points.

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Positive aspects of CBE


Working off Alfie Kohn’s three problems with traditional grading( as found above), it is easy to see how competency based education addresses all three of these issues. CBE is able to address these problems simply by discussing with them about what they are learning, why they are learning it, and involving them with the creation of assessment tools.

CBE also allows for the teacher to easily evaluate student progress.

Example: How you would structure a basic math lesson:

1.Before the lesson is taught there is a discussion between the teacher and his/her students.

2.Clear goals, are established, to show how students will demonstrate their mastery the concept.
This might be as simple as “students are able to demonstrate that they are able to add single two single digit numbers together, and will complete a worksheet that demonstrates this.”
3. The lesson is taught

4. Introduce a time frame and a completion date.

5. Students should then be given multiple tries to complete the assignment within the allotted time frame.
This will then prevent students from falling behind, even with multiple tries.
6.Repeat, introducing new concepts

One of the most attractive features of competency-based education is that it engages the students. As you can see from the short example above, students are aware of what is expected of them before a lesson begins. Students also have the opportunity to provide feedback as to what is expected of them. If this is done correctly the students then feel that they have contributed to their learning objectives, and it provides them a chance to voice their opinion if they feel an expectation is unfair. While it may seem difficult to allow students flexibility in this situation, this does not have to be not the case. The example given above is for a single lesson, and if this is done for an entire unit (or year), both broad and specific goals can be established, which students can work towards at their own pace. William Spady writes that “if conceived properly, CBE programs need not be rigid, mechanistic, and monolithic.”

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Potential Problems with CBE


There are some problems associated with competency based grading. The most prevalent of these is the concern that students will now only meet the minimum requirements, and will not attempt to achieve higher grades. In practical application this has raised issues over admission to competitive colleges, and concerns over not receiving traditional grades. One school has attempted to tackle this problem by implementing a 1-5 system. The way this works is the students are assessed and given feedback on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), depending on how well they demonstrate their understanding of each topic. The students are then given a grade based on the 100-point system, by averaging out these marks (a 5 equaling 100, 4 equaling 80 etc.). This system takes competency based grading, while at the same time allowing and rewarding more than a minimum standard required to get each differ grade. [3]

There are also some potential problems with consistencies. Not all assessment of competency will be a formal test or worksheet. This has the potential to lead to problems with inconsistencies between different classes or instructors. This can be done simply by making sure that assessment is done in the most objective way possible, and that different teachers are communicating about what they are doing in each class, and how they are doing it.

There are also potential problems with separating formative assessments, and informal assessment. If students are constantly learning and informal assessment is going on, students may often to be able to demonstrate the skills in these informal evaluations, but not in a formative assessment. This could be a problem if you are trying to establish a standardized system to track classroom progress, and show parents clear results. I think that the solution to this is simply a more hands-on approach with the students. If you know that a student understands a concept, and simply could not perform in a testing situation you are able to approach that student, work with them, and have them repeat the assessmnet. This is one of the benefits of competency-based evaluation, as students are demonstrating a mastery of a skill, and not testing skills, or skills based on learning a concept within a certain time frame.
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References for section 3



[1] http://www.jstor.org/pss/1175451
[2] http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm
http://www.jstor.org/pss/30185211
http://www.johnvenn.com/assessment/assessment_
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1174210
[3] http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/new-grade-scale-raises-questions?page=0,0&CSAuthResp=1316622417%3A6hsk3j22vltfu8dp3hctgrb932%3ACSUserId|CSGroupId%3Aapproved%3AAC805384BCB6CC664DF8D1EA2FC6F4F7&CSUserId=94&CSGroupId=1

There are 3 major problems with grading according to Alfie Kohn. The experienced point based approach deals with them all, and seems to correct them all as well.
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5.Conclusion

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The main idea to take away from this page is that as future educators we need to shift our direction when it comes to traditional education and grading practices. With the information found here it can clearly be done and at the same time made engaging and fun for students. These techniques are just a glimmer of the potential that could be found within an experience points based system. So we leave you with a video that sparked our interest in this system and will hopefully spark yours apennyarcade.jpgs well.
The first problem he outlines is that “Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself”(Alfiekhon.org). As Lee Sheldon, a professor from the University of Indiana, states: By using a game based approach “the elements of the class are couched in terms they [the students] understand, terms that are associated with fun rather than education" (switched.com). Because the class itself is outlined as a game students will no doubt be more engaged and therefore more interested in learning.
The second problem Kohn suggests is that “Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks”(Alfiekhon.org). With an experience points based assessment approach students are encouraged to take on tasks in order to further their grade, not lower it. The bigger the assignment, or more assignments that they complete, the more experience they will gain, and therefore the better there overall grade will be. As Sheldon again states: “’I think you need to make it very clear to people about what the expectations are with regards to performance.’ In other words, if a student or worker performs a certain way, they will rack up experience and move forward”(switched.com).
http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/gamifying-education
The last problem Kohn speaks about is that “Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking” (Alfiekhon.org). In an experienced based assessment, it is not the process that is graded but the overall outcome. Students are given the tools but have the freedom to explore their own way of achieving a conclusion in an assignment. Teamwork is encouraged and classmates can even go so far as to form groups, or “guilds” in order to improve their chances of completion. This introduces an influx of ideas and generates more positive and independent thinking.
3.Problems in using it:
While this approach does address and correct some of the approaches of assessment there are obviously pit falls and shortcomings. The main problem facing this style of assessment is that for it to be incredibly motivational the educator themselves must be immersed within it. It is time consuming. In order to give students a feel off overall freedom within the parameters set by the teacher, a lot of work and thought must be put in. The second is that in order to reach maximum effectiveness, the assessment technique must be used at length and not for just one assignment. It could reach maximum efficiency within a unit or perhaps even 3 units. The next would be the willingness of the students. If your students were not onboard the exercise would fail miserably.
The ultimate problem with this is the quality of assignments handed in. You cannot award points based solely on completion, because the learning within the exercise would then be mute. A criteria must be laid out that focus on a desired answer or outcome of a project.
How to use it? Overall a tactic such as this could be implemented quite easily. The longer it is used the more powerful the effect. For example it could be used to motivate students during a particular boring unit, such as the French Revolution. By setting the maximum level of points for the unit at 750 and creating 14 varied assignments within your unit worth 50xp each (or any variation, such as a 200xp video project) you can translate those points easily into grades.
For instance
F – 99 points and below
D – 100 points
C – 250 points
B – 450 points
A – 750 points
There are in fact two excellent real world examples of this practice in place within the current educational system. The first is within a school in New York known as Quest to Learn. The New York Quest to Learn school uses class and grade specific based “missions” that overarch a 4 week long “Quest”, or particular unit. At the end of that quest there is a 1 week boss fight that draws from experiences from all the earlier missions (or assignments) in order to complete the boss fight quest.
The website can be found here:
The second example can be seen through Lee Sheldon, a University of Indiana professor, and his successful transformation of his grading system into an experience based classroom. A guide to make Sheldon style syllabus can be found here: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2010/03/build-your-own-sheldon-syllabus.html

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Master References:


i. http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2010/03/build-your-own-sheldon-syllabus.html
ii. http://www.switched.com/2010/03/26/prof-subs-grades-for-experience-points-presentations-with-quest/
iii. http://www.q2l.org/purpose
iv. http://education.mit.edu/papers/GamesSimsSocNets_EdArcade.pdf
v. http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm
vi.http://www.aac.ab.ca/Refocus/refocus-ready.html
vii.http://www.k-state.edu/catl/teach/gtahandbook/altgrade.htm
viii.Burke, Kay. How to Assess: Authentic Learning. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Publishers, 2009. Print.
xi.http://www.aac.ab.ca/Refocus/refocus-ready.html
x.http://www.k-state.edu/catl/teach/gtahandbook/altgrade.htm
xi.http://www.jstor.org/pss/1175451
xii.http://www.jstor.org/pss/30185211
xiii.http://www.johnvenn.com/assessment/assessment_
xiv.http://www.jstor.org/stable/1174210
xv.http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/new-grade-scale-raises-questions?page=0,0&xvi.CSAuthResp=1316622417%3A6hsk3j22vltfu8dp3hctgrb932%3ACSUserId|CSGroupId%3Aapproved%3AAC805384BCB6CC664DF8D1EA2FC6F4F7&CSUserId=94&CSGroupId=1
There are 3 major problems with grading according to Alfie Kohn. The experienced point based approach deals with them all, and seems to correct them all as well.
The first problem he outlines is that “Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself”(Alfiekhon.org). As Lee Sheldon, a professor from the University of Indiana, states: By using a game based approach “the elements of the class are couched in terms they [the students] understand, terms that are associated with fun rather than education" (switched.com). Because the class itself is outlined as a game students will no doubt be more engaged and therefore more interested in learning.
The second problem Kohn suggests is that “Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks”(Alfiekhon.org). With an experience points based assessment approach students are encouraged to take on tasks in order to further their grade, not lower it. The bigger the assignment, or more assignments that they complete, the more experience they will gain, and therefore the better there overall grade will be. As Sheldon again states: “’I think you need to make it very clear to people about what the expectations are with regards to performance.’ In other words, if a student or worker performs a certain way, they will rack up experience and move forward”(switched.com).
The last problem Kohn speaks about is that “Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking” (Alfiekhon.org). In an experienced based assessment, it is not the process that is graded but the overall outcome. Students are given the tools but have the freedom to explore their own way of achieving a conclusion in an assignment. Teamwork is encouraged and classmates can even go so far as to form groups, or “guilds” in order to improve their chances of completion. This introduces an influx of ideas and generates more positive and independent thinking.
3.Problems in using it:
While this approach does address and correct some of the approaches of assessment there are obviously pit falls and shortcomings. The main problem facing this style of assessment is that for it to be incredibly motivational the educator themselves must be immersed within it. It is time consuming. In order to give students a feel off overall freedom within the parameters set by the teacher, a lot of work and thought must be put in. The second is that in order to reach maximum effectiveness, the assessment technique must be used at length and not for just one assignment. It could reach maximum efficiency within a unit or perhaps even 3 units. The next would be the willingness of the students. If your students were not onboard the exercise would fail miserably.
The ultimate problem with this is the quality of assignments handed in. You cannot award points based solely on completion, because the learning within the exercise would then be mute. A criteria must be laid out that focus on a desired answer or outcome of a project.
How to use it? Overall a tactic such as this could be implemented quite easily. The longer it is used the more powerful the effect. For example it could be used to motivate students during a particular boring unit, such as the French Revolution. By setting the maximum level of points for the unit at 750 and creating 14 varied assignments within your unit worth 50xp each (or any variation, such as a 200xp video project) you can translate those points easily into grades.
For instance
F – 99 points and below
D – 100 points
C – 250 points
B – 450 points
A – 750 points
There are in fact two excellent real world examples of this practice in place within the current educational system. The first is within a school in New York known as Quest to Learn. The New York Quest to Learn school uses class and grade specific based “missions” that overarch a 4 week long “Quest”, or particular unit. At the end of that quest there is a 1 week boss fight that draws from experiences from all the earlier missions (or assignments) in order to complete the boss fight quest.
The website can be found here:
The second example can be seen through Lee Sheldon, a University of Indiana professor, and his successful transformation of his grading system into an experience based classroom. A guide to make Sheldon style syllabus can be found here: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2010/03/build-your-own-sheldon-syllabus.html




So by changing the grading style overall there would be a more engaging form of education for students and a varied approach to assessment.