I'm going to be trying something new this quarter and would be interested to hear initial reactions to my plan.
In my interdisciplinary Gen Ed course on death and dying, the students receive a weekly writing assignment. They are required to complete five of the assignments during the term. The assignments themselves will be ungraded, but I plan to give collective feedback along the lines I described in an earlier post.
I'm then requiring the students to tell me which three of the five completed writing assignments they'd like me to count for their term grade. In short, they pick their best work to be counted toward their grade.
Now there are a number of reasons I'm trying this. For one, it requires the students to write a fair amount without swamping me with continual grading. Second, it broadcasts what I hope is a positive, hopeful message to students: I won't evaluate you based on your failures. After all, people trying to learn will fail sometimes. Instead, I'll grade based on what you can do.
Lastly, it's a step toward helping students take a metacognitive stance on their own writing. Instead of relying on my judgment about what makes for quality writing, students have to interrogate their own writing and articulate, at least in their own minds, the standards they believe their writing should meet.
What do you think?