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What is Ungrading? An Interview on Contracts and Peer Evaluation

For anyone interested in ungrading, contract grading, and peer-to-peer evaluation, Aaron Blackwelder of “Beyond the Curriculum” has done a great job interviewing Cathy Davidson and Christina Katopodis about their chapter in Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (And What To Do Instead), edited by Susan D. Blum (West Virginia University Press, 2020). We discuss such things as Carol Dweck’s idea of “growth mindset” and how ungrading focuses on the learning process not just learning as a product. We talk about how, by having a contract based on all assignments in a course, a student can plan in advance. Not every student, we’ve found, wants an A; in a busy semester, they might not be able to do all the workload in a course and be happy to contract to do enough of the work to earn a B. (That kind of mature, careful planning allows the student to be in control, to not simply “flake out” of assignments and look irresponsible when they are simply not able to do the A-level workload during a time when, for example, they are juggling jobs or family responsibilities.)

The podcast offers concise advice and how to’s and summarizes some of the research in this area: https://podcasts.google.com/search/beyond%20the%20curriculum Aaron is interviewing all the authors in this fantastic book. Bonus: If you listen to the podcast, Aaron gives you a code for 30% off buying this lovely, accessible, smart “how-to” book.

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