The latest news in higher education and around ACUE
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September 15, 2016

Good morning!

This week, Catherine Ross, executive director of Wake Forest University’s Teaching and Learning Center, talked to ACUE about her recent experiment with grading and shared ideas for instructors wanting to try it in their own classrooms. Check out the excerpt below or read the full interview with Dr. Ross over on The ‘Q’ Blog.
In other news, find tips for changing your routine to reengage students and learn about a new course on coffee that is capturing students' interest.


News in brief

The latest news and opinions in higher education.

Specifications grading. Catherine Ross shares her journey experimenting with specifications grading as well as tips for those wanting to try it out in their own classrooms. (The 'Q' Blog)

Classroom observation. With so much to learn from observing a colleague’s classroom and getting insights from their expertise, why wait? (Vitae)

Zero-sum game. A business professor stopped grading on a curve in order to foster more cooperation and community. Learn how his students’ grades improved as a result. (New York Times)

Community involvement. A new challenge from the Association of American Colleges and Universities hopes to connect students to real-world problems in their communities so their coursework can result in meaningful solutions. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Perking up education. An innovative course focused on the engineering of the coffee maker has become the most popular elective at University of California, Davis. (NPR)

Change it up. Here are five tips for breaking up your teaching routine and recapturing students’ attention. (Teaching in Higher Ed)

To my professor. A new book is out with tips for becoming a better college professor: uniquely, this one is written by students responding to the simple prompt “To my professor…” (Inside Higher Ed)

Classroom involvement. Two professors offer tips for drawing in students who may be hesitant to participate in class. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Online disconnect. One former student shares her experience with online learning and some of the disconnect it can create. (Slate)

Specifications Grading
After years of thinking about her grading system and ways to improve it, Catherine Ross was given the opportunity to embark on a grading "experiment" when she was asked to teach a new course. "It was a new course that I was designing, and without even thinking I laid out traditional grading with the weighted categories. Then all of a sudden it hit me that this was a golden opportunity for an experiment with specifications grading."

Specifications grading is a system in which assignments are graded as pass–
fail using "detailed lists of criteria, which you can think of as checklists or a single-row rubric." As part of the grading system, students are asked to evaluate their own work first and provide a justification for the grade they've given themselves.

Read the full interview with Catherine Ross about this grading experiment over on The 'Q' Blog.

For more on effective grading, see ACUE’s module on Developing Fair, Consistent, and Transparent Grading Practices.
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