• Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time (Workshop)

      Nilson, Linda B.; Director Emeritus, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation Clemson University (2016-09)
      Colleges and universities generally require that we submit letter grades to represent student performance, but how we determine those grades is up to us. Unfortunately, the way we have been grading student work for many decades earns low marks on a list of 14 criteria for assessing grading systems. This workshop presents an alternative system, specifications ("specs" ) grading, that does better, especially in motivating students to achieve outcomes and produce high-quality work. Better yet, it saves faculty time. The system works effectively because it gives students more choices and control while holding their work to high academic standards. The purest form of this new system offers a new gestalt on assessment, combining three elements: satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading of all assignments and tests, a token system that lets students "buy" limited flexibility, and "bundles" of assessments associated with sets of learning outcomes and final letter grades. By the end of the workshop, participants will be able adapt one or more of their courses to a pure or synthetic version of specs grading, including turning assignment directions into specs, bundling assessments, developing a token system, and revising their syllabus accordingly.