In this project based class, there will be few assignments and each assignment will take multiple days to complete. Therefore it is important that students are engaged consistently. Engagement is a measure of the extent to which students focus on their work and contribute to class as well as their attitude and behavior during class.
Engagement-Based Grading has been demonstrated by other faculty members at High Tech High as a means to
Reduce anxiety due to grades
Place value on the process of learning as well as final products
Encourage revision and trying new things
Personalize the challenge of the class to each student
Meanwhile, graded assignments have been shown to
Decrease student interest
Create a preference for the easiest possible task
Reduce the quality of student thinking
For these and other reasons, this semester I will be evaluating student engagement and using it as the basis for 50% of their grade. The other 50% of their grade will be based on student-proposed scores twice in the semester.
Ultimately, I’m confident that this grading style will result in high quality learning and instruction and foster constructive conversations throughout the year. I am available for questions and comments at your convenience.
Philip Estrada email@example.com
What about individual assignments? - Assignments will still have due dates and typical requirements. I will record them as Complete, Incomplete, Late, etc. When students propose grades for themselves in the middle and end of the class they will reference these records. There is not a penalty for re-trying an assignment or revising (it is in fact encouraged).
What if students disagree with how they’ve been graded? - I will be guided in my grading by a rubric that I co-create with students. Still, if a disagreement arises I can lead a discussion with students and anyone concerned. Because the engagement grade is sliding rather than cumulative, students will see their grade improve after a few weeks of increased engagement in class.
How can students improve their grade? - Engagement scores are not cumulative, so a period of low engagement does not doom students to failure. The score more closely represents the past 1-2 weeks of work. If student engagement changes they will see a change in the engagement score. I will generally not change engagement scores by more than half a letter per week.
What if a student does not engage until the very end of the semester?- Without engaging well in the class until the end, it’s hard to imagine that a student would have completed enough work to justify a passing grade in their grade proposals, so I would not expect them to pass.
What about college?- Students will receive a typical letter grade at the end of the course that will meet all the requirements for college application and admission.
Student A: Aaron Aaron has never used woodworking tools and is very nervous about them. Each day in class he is on time and asks lots of questions. He makes sure to watch other students use the tools first to build up the confidence to try himself. Because of this he works slowly and hasn’t finished the first assignment while other students move on. He helps keep the class organized and positive and can speak in detail about the project and content of the class.
Engagement score: Despite being behind on the project, Aaron works diligently and carefully each day, and so will likely have a high B or A at the end of the semester.
Student B: Bella Bella also has not used tools in a woodshop before, but soon learns that she loves it. She also learns that she can finish assignments quickly. She gets into the habit of waiting to start until the day before an assignment is due and is able to quickly complete it to the minimum requirement. There are days where she is late to class and when she isn’t working she will take extended breaks or get distracted with her friends.
Engagement score: While Bella is able to meet minimum standards for the assignments, she isn’t working to stay focused on the project or seek to master skills in the classroom. I would expect this student’s engagement score to begin dropping during the semester and possibly end up below a D.