“One of the hardest things for people to do is to change their mind … but that is our task as educators.”

Tonight, on Virtually Connecting, a few lucky long distance folks (including myself) got to talk to some people at the BC Festival of Learning. The biggest take away for me was the discussion about moving away from grading students to what some call a “gradeless” approach, or what I have been referring to as “feedback-focused assessment.”

Some thoughts in the video above include

  • Explicit explanations at the beginning of class
  • Clear, transparent, and obvious assessments are valuable
  • Caution against rubrics (particularly pre-determined ones)
  • Filing in expectations together – negotiated criteria around core ideas
  • Jump of off these value rubrics that are competency based
  • Queens Univerity value rubrics tool can be as gradeless as you want
  • Formative assessment focus that is consistent, which moves away from a summative assessment
  • Jessie has done some work about going gradeless – A must-read!
  • Start small, with one assignment
  • The administration needs a letter grade. Negotiation of a letter grade is a huge opportunity for student reflection and goal setting
  • Student blogs can be a place for personal reflection
  • Students may need to be talked out of giving themselves too low of a grade
  • This taxonomy is a general rubric that can be a starting point for discussion with students

This discussion is comforting as it fits with my plan of co-constructing success criteria in the first two weeks of class. It was great connecting virtually and hearing about some #FOL18 lessons learned. After the session, it was recommended that I check out this podcast.

  • We need to figure out how to trust students more.
  • Empathy is needed.
  • Empowerment is needed for them to take responsibility for their learning and ask for what they need.
  • Freedom to express learning in multiple ways is needed.
  • What is next to help students thrive?
  • Students asked for open educational resources.
  • Be flexible.
  • Epistemic humility was discussed by students.

I keep hearing amazing things about the keynote from Jesse Stomel. I hope there is a recording posted!




Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


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