“Fear and Anxiety in Learning”

Wow – to think that grading might be interfering with  learning rather than encouraging it! What a concept!

A thoughtful post, “When Grading Harms Student Learning” by Andrew Miller, points out the aspects of grade grubbing that not only disrupt learning for learning’s sake, but are downright harmful.

We see this in kids with various learning disabilities, or kids who learn experientially, or who are creative. When we rely on teacher imposed/created evaluations, we really learn more about that teacher than about what the student learned. Of course we need some sort of assessment. But why does it have to be like always trying to keep your head above water instead of a positive environment? Students study to  avoid losing points — not to learn.

Zeros do not reflect student learning. They reflect compliance.

How does it encourage learning when students are always in the hole in terms of points? Can they ever pull themselves out of a bad situation? Students who perhaps have a learning disability, who had to work the night before a test, who might have test anxiety, etc., may not get great grades on a test. How does that motivate them to do better next time? I think it does exactly the opposite – many students would see this as a detriment. Why try?

I constantly go back to the story about a student who wrote a fantastic skit based on concepts learned in a history class. The teacher talked about how fantastic the skit was: it demonstrated complete understanding of the concept, the students were able to communicate the concept and apply it to another situation. It was worth a whole TEN points! The next day, the students had a 60 point multiple choice test. Huh. I know which thing I think shows more understanding, yet that was worth 1/6 of the multiple choice test.

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