Gradeless Classes

A common component of any class is the grade. The overall term grade is a culmination of many smaller grades along the way. Anytime a grade is given, it’s an evaluation. I argue here, though, that we can have classes without any grades.

Teresa Amabile of Harvard University studied the relationship between motivation and creation. Her studies showed that students had high levels of anxiety when they knew they were being evaluated. Outputs under this duress were significantly less creative than those when students were told they weren’t being evaluated.

What would a gradeless class look like? Well, it wouldn’t be totally gradeless because it would have a final grade. What wouldn’t be present would be grades before that endpoint. Instead, there’d be many conversations. There’d be writing and reading and discussions. Lots of learning motion, just no grades. This isn’t standards-based grading because no constant reflections back to standards at intervals would be made.

It could work if people are willing to try it. It would take being open and communicative.

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