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Feedback and Revision Cycles

At a recent school PD session, it was announced that we will be revisiting grading practices in an effort to come to agreement on common practices as a staff.  I admire our administration for taking on this issue.  Grading practices are something that most staff don’t like having open conversations about, myself included.  I feel like I always need to be able to defend my position and I should be.  So, the point of this post is to help me frame my beliefs as it comes to opportunities for students to receive feedback and act on that feedback.

This diagram below is an attempt to summarize the process I allow students in my classroom when it comes to a particular learning outcome.

I recently revised my objective rubrics to follow a 0-4 scale based on Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs.

Synthesize multiple pieces
Analyze unique information
Apply understanding
Explain basics

The key to this process is providing students feedback and giving them the opportunity for reassessment.  The result of the reassessment could be scoring at a level 4.  Revision in my course is optional for all students who achieve any level.  So a student could revise if they are at a level 1, 2, or 3. Ultimately, there is no ceiling to their ability to demonstrate understanding.  This means that any student could achieve a level 4 upon revision. I can’t think of a good defense for not allowing students the opportunity for an opportunity to be reassessed.  Given that opportunity, there is no reason that they shouldn’t be allowed to score at the highest possible level.

Many will make arguments that “in the real world” students won’t be given multiple opportunities to be reassessed.  I would argue that “in the real world” important projects are worked on over long periods of time and undergo many cycles of feedback and revision before they are considered complete.  So it should be with something as important as a student’s understanding of content.  Others say that “in college” they will only get one chance at a test.  I would say to that, just because it is done that way, why do we have to model ourselves after it.  Can’t we provide the best opportunity for our students to gain understanding of our content?  

We have great technology tools at our disposal for allowing multiple submissions and providing these dynamic feedback and revision cycles.  Canvas LMS has provided me with a great tool to provide feedback on assignments and allow students to see the feedback and resubmit.  I am alerted when they submit and can provide new feedback to determine the level of mastery.

These are some of the questions that made me reevaluate the way I assess and grade student in my classroom.

  • What is the goal of your classroom?
  • How are you helping students achieve this goal?
  • Who is dictating the timeline for demonstrating mastery in your course?
  • If you had a summative assessment due on Tuesday, could a student still receive full points if they demonstrated advanced understanding on Friday?
  • Is the independent variable of your course time or objectives? Are you putting more importance on scoring understanding on a date or when the student has shown progress towards deeper understanding?
  • Do you only get one chance to demonstrate the ability to teach a lesson to your class?
  • How would you like to be assessed?  One and done or the ability to show progress based on feedback?

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