Winter Quarter Book Circle: Grading for Growth

For many instructors, grading is one of the most vexing aspects of teaching. Grading writing can be even more challenging, as it involves judgments about academic performance that may devalue the diversity of literacy experiences and linguistic backgrounds our students bring to the classroom. Yet in many universities, grading remains the coin of the realm—the determiner of scholarships, internships, graduate and professional school admission, and prestige rankings. Because of their extrinsic value, grades can create friction in the classroom, and, as research has shown, can diminish students’ sense of belonging, motivation, and engagement.

Are there ways to grade student writing that honor the diversity of experiences and backgrounds our students bring to campus? Are there ways grading can be a means to foster academic belonging, increase intrinsic motivation, and deepen learning? 

Let’s explore these questions, and others, in our Winter book circle. Over the quarter, we’ll meet in person or online to read and discuss David Clark and Robert Talbert’s new book, Grading for Growth: A Guide To Alternative Grading Practices That Promote Authentic Learning and Student Engagement in Higher Education (Routledge, 2023). We’ll use the book as a springboard for thinking about teaching and grading in our own course contexts. We’ll use our discussion of the book to build community.

The book is available online and for free download through UCI libraries. You can read an abstract on the library website.

We’ll meet four times over the quarter on Friday mornings (9-10am.). Participants can choose to attend in person (Science LIbrary,193) or via zoom. Coffee and light refreshments will be on hand for those who attend in person. Completing the reading for a given session is encouraged but not required. There will be no reading quizzes! We may choose to adjust reading expectations once we begin working with the book. We’ll also maintain a collective Google Doc where participants can share their thoughts, ideas, and insights at any time.

Discussion Schedule for Grading for Growth:
Session 1: Chapters 1-4 (Friday, January 12, 9-10am)
Session 2: Chapters 5-7 (Friday, February 2, 9-10am)
Session 3: Chapters 8-10 (Friday, February 23, 9-10am)
Session 4: Chapters 11-13 (Friday, March 8, 9-10am)