I stumbled across Cathy Davidson's blogpost, How To Crowdsource Grading, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about the method of grading she is about to try. You need to read the entire post but I'll summarize just a bit here. Cathy is seeking a more authentic method for grading her Duke University students.
Cathy says, "I can't think of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluage learning in a class on a new modes of digital thinking (including rethinking evaluation) than by assigning a grade. It turns learning (which should be a deep pleasure, setting up for a lifetime of curiousity) into a crass competition."
"Since I already have structured my seminar (it worked brilliantly last year) so that two students lead us in every class, they can now also read all the class blogs (as they used to) and pass judgment on whether they are satisfactory. Thumbs up, thumbs down. If not, any student who wishes can revise. If you revise, you get the credit. End of story."
Now, let me first say that her course, This is Your Brain on the Internet, sounds fabulous. She has the students blogging, using wikis, Twittering, etc. and she offers options for those who feel they lack in "tech skills."
My problem is simply in one area. That is in her completely turning over the evaluation process to her students. Isn't it expected that her students are still learning and that she is the ultimate "expert" in her classroom? I'm all for students evaluating and offering collaborative critiques, but doesn't she have a responsibility to oversee that final decision on whether a student has satisfactorily mastered the criteria?
I'm pretty sure we're ALL fed up with the system as it is and the way students must be evaluated but is the answer to throw up your hands and pass it off to those who are still figuring it all out?