Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Post-Grades Assessments...and Grades...


I wrote (a few days ago) that I am re-designing  an introductory course in instructional design (see syllabus here).  In my assessment activities I've decided to go with a pass/not pass model.  There will still be something approximating traditional rubrics and categories for different things that learners need to address in each activity, but I am toying with the idea of doing away with prescriptive rubrics like this one†.  I think that grading rubrics, and the exercise of sitting down to create one, is invaluable for instructor and instructional designers.  It helps you go through the process of articulating what you want learners to be able to do in this activity.

There is only one problem, not everything can have a meaningful rubric.  For instance, in the rubric I linked to, how does one convey to learners that they minimally summarized vs. summarized something?  Or summarized vs. extensively summarized?  Qualitative feedback is obviously important to help disambiguate, but this is really after-the-fact feedback (once assignment is in and graded). Thus the rubric helps in establishing categories, and some criteria, but they aren't always clear.  Sometimes the rubric maker is awful at making rubrics, and other times the type of assessment doesn't lend itself to that sort of rubric.  Hence, my pass/not pass attempt at assessment.

This, however brings up an interesting conundrum: what will the final grade of learners be? Do they all get an A?  Is that fair?  Am I being lazy and just contributing to "grade inflation"  - is that even a thing? or are we being all doom and gloom about this?

This and a recent (and last!) ET4Online from the OLC made me think of a badges first approach to assessments.  For this I was also influenced by David Wiley's IOE12. For that course David Wiley had an interesting schema for assigning a final grade (see badge descriptions here on archive.org). The final schema looked like this (IOE12 was both a MOOC and a for-credit course):

No badges earned = F
1 Novice Badge = D
1 Novice Badge + 1 Apprentice Badge = C
1 Novice Badge + 2 Apprentice Badges = B
1 Novice Badge + 2 Apprentice Badges + 1 Journeyman Badge = A

I thought to myself... well... this could work, why not try it?  So here is my attempt. I have two types of badges:
  • Known and tied to specific knowledge and skills demonstrated [credit-bearing]
  • Hidden (Easter Eggs) tied to interactions in the course [non-credit-bearing]

No [credit bearing] badges = F
1-2 Explorer badge = F
3 Explorer badges = C
3 Explorer badges + 1 Instructional Designer Apprentice Badge = B
3 Explorer badges + 1 Instructional Designer Apprentice Badge + 1 Reflective badge= B+
All of the above + participation in weekly discussions = A

It should be noted that the easter-egg badges are mostly tied to weekly discussions, but I don't want people to be forced into patterns of participation.  I also do want to encourage a spirit of exploration in the course by having easter-egg badges, so those are hidden until discovered.

The explorer badges are going to be earned by exploring different areas of instructional design throughout the weeks (theories of learning, different modalities, specific edtech, and so on).  The Instructional Designer Apprentice badge will be earned when the learner submits a passing-quality final project in which they have employed ID, and the Reflective badge will be awarded for learners who have completed at least 8 weekly reflections on their own learning.  Participation will be based on participation in the forums each week ;-).

I can already see issues like what happens if I have 2 explorer badges, 1 ID apprentice, and 1 reflective badge?  I guess I will need to figure that out at some point.  What do you think?  Any thoughts at this point?

Now I need to design the easter-egg badges ;-)



SIDENOTES:
† in case the image doesn't show up in the future, it was just one of the first images of a grading rubric that came up on google search.
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