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Paper Proposal

Khadijah_'s picture

I guess that I'm thinking about proposing that this course only be offered as credit/no credit and possibly extending that into a conversation about grades and how to assess learning. I just finished my weekly meeting for the TLI program and I had mentioned that one of my frustrations coming out of college is that I felt like I haven't learned anything in the classroom (that's not to say that the learning hasn't happened, but rather that what I have learned has happened in my experiences outside of the classroom). This leads me into a larger question about what does it mean to learn and how do we assess it, is it measured in grades? What does pass/fail mean? What is passing? Would each assignment be pass/fail? Does simply doing an assignment mean that you've passed because you experienced the assignment? What does it take to not receive credit? I'm not really sure where to go with these questions, but below are some quotes that I was drawn to in thinking about this specific topic.

the same objective experience and the same conversational content will be understood and expressed differently and predictably depending on the complexity of the meaning making - Stages of Adult Development

at advanced stages of adult development we are able to self-author our experiences - Grace Boda talk

discrepancy between our ideas and good intentions and how we act when we are confronted with the nitty-gritty details of real life situations - Pema Chodron

but we need people at all development levels to make humanity whole - Grace Boda talk

what I like about how spacious the adult development framework is that it does not define normal - Grace Boda talk


I think what draws me to these quotes is that the way we think about and experience things is unique to ourselves, which may also mean that how we assess our own learning is unique to us. Maybe the tension of a grade lies between what a professor understands learning to look like and what the student understands their learning to look like.

Another thought that I'm having relates to how my motivation to learn and perform have changed from K-12 to now. As a student in elementary and high school I was always motivated to learn but I was also equally focused on getting high grades. In college I have found that I really don't care about the grades at all, I just want to know if I'm going to pass a course. I'm still interested in learning, but the ways and possibly the environments that have been conducive to what I would consider learning do not exist in the "classroom".



Dana's picture

Do you think that taking the grades out of the classroom would help resolve some of this tension around what the student feels that they learned and the professor thinks the student learned?

alesnick's picture

I appreciate these exciting questions and connections and look forward to you developing this line of thinking.  Also glad to note that it connects your experiences and course readings imaginatively and organically.  What you write here about learning as unique (whole) to ourselves, and at the same time as all learnings intergral to humanity (another whole) unsettles the very concept of grading and also suggests it may confuse more than it reveals.