Points or learning

Discussion in 'General Education' started by a2z, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    I certainly don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings. Another thread got me thinking about education. I didn't want to derail the thread.

    We have a problem in American education that stems from learning not being the focus of education. The almighty grade is the focus for most whether it be the good student striving for the most points or a teacher using points to curb behavior or be a consequence.

    Is it possible to change the conversation so it focuses on learning and how actions impact learning. This moght beva better general education topic, but it seemed to fit better here at this time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  3. miss-m

    miss-m Cohort

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    I think it would take a cultural values shift to even start the conversation in that direction. For all the talk about high standards and expectations for education, learning just isn't a high value in the United States. It's all talk. I've seen a lot of articles recently about the Dunning Kruger effect - people are ignorant, becoming more ignorant, and blissfully unaware and even arrogant about their ignorance. People who put effort into learning and improving themselves through education are not seen as role models by society as a whole.

    And I know that's a lot of generalizations, but I think there is just a huge shift that would have to happen before education ever truly changed directions, and I don't think it's likely to happen. :(
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    But why can't that shift start in schools by focusing always on the reason for learning and why behaviors that take away from learning hurt the student in the long run. Surely, if the culture of the schools is not such that learning is the reason students are there and rely on grades, points, and other persuasion, how will society ever change? Why should schools take the back seat?

    There are pushes to have a focus on learning, but it certainly isn't a concerted effort on the part of all. A united front can go a long way to help shift the tide, can't it?
     
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that these are two very different issues.

    Learning for the sake of learning is a lofty goal. While I think that it should be enough to learn for the sake of learning, I don't think that our society works that way. We are competitive by nature (Hello, capitalism!), and in order to compete, even with ourselves, we need some mechanism in place to measure the degree to which we are learning. The points/grades are the measurement, and they're also a nice, concrete way for small children to identify that they've learned something or not, assuming best grading practices and all that.

    I do agree completely that we need to focus a lot more on how our actions have consequences, not only in regards to learning but also when it comes to success, relationships, and everything else. I think that schools would do well to increase the amount and quality of character education at all grade levels.
     
  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    Without going into too much detail, this is why I approach math especially, but really all subjects (including their life skills) in my fourth grade class with a "growth mindset" ideal: I'm not really fixated on their particular score they get on one assignment/assessment. I'm more focused on the changes that they make, the mistakes that they learn from. When the focus is around "how do I grow / improve" in their mind, that's when the most learning will take place. Just like how, as teachers, we have to celebrate successes and identify those areas we want to improve...and that's where our learning takes place!

    (I'm just now realizing this is a secondary thread...whoops! Feel free to ignore if you're aiming more for secondary, though I think it at least somewhat - though certainly not fully - connects/applies)
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    It might belong in general more than secondary.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jun 7, 2017

    Done. :angel:
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Thanks
     
  10. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think this change can start from the bottom up. Don't wait for it to trickle from the top down.
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    While I agree that grades and learing are two different things, I do think that there is too much emphasis on the grades part. Grades really don't tell the full story. What does a grade of a B say that a child can actually do or understand? I think our system over emphasizes grades and under values real learning and growth.
     
  12. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    I think this is a basic growth vs. proficiency question and what is more important? The bar -- or grades we assign (however seemingly arbitrary)-- indicate proficiency. And while they may motivate some "Ooh I really want that 95," so some will push for it; others (especially as they get older) will simply do just good enough work for a grade and then move on. We had this discussion during my writing class this past semester and how it's really difficult to get students to critique and revise their writing. Many will get a paper back, glance at it (maybe even ignoring the teacher's comments,) say "Eh, I passed," and then throw it to the side. They have not motivation to go back and improve because they earned the grade and did just ''good enough.'' But then some students may not even do ANY work (to show ANY learning) if there's no grade attached. "You're not going to grade it so why should I do it?" The idea of grades, which to me are so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, is a huge battle I struggle with.
    At our school we adopted the Standards Based Grading which is supposed to be more in tuned with demonstrating student mastery of skills. Instead of handing a parent a report card and saying "They got a 95 in math because they did x,y,z assignments,'' we can target each skill and say ,'' He's falling far below in this particular standard.''
    But I agree that overemphasizing grades is totally unnecessary.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    What we see as the years go on is how the education system programs minds and has for years.
     
  14. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    I do agree with the growth mindset and I do use that to some degree in my class. I use Dylan Williams + - = feedback system and I tell students that I don't really care about the grade as much as I care about there being a + on the assessment to show improvement. My students always look at the + - = with more anticipation than the actual grade, which is fantastic.
    But, grades do have a part to play in education, I think it gives students something to work towards, a tangible goal if you like. The problem is not all students care about their grades or their education for that matter, and for those students who just don't care, I'm not convinced that a growth mindset education or grades focused education makes a difference.
    I think (generalising here) students' attitude to their learning has dropped in recent years. When I was a kid, it was 100% about grades (if you failed, your teachers took a bite out of you and when you went home, your parents finished you off) but I felt that I had a good education that set me up for life. I saw all my classmates working their behinds off, so I did too. It was stressful and hard but I ended up better for it. Now, I see more students who don't give a toss about grades or anything else in life for that matter. They can't see past their nose. This is my personal opinion, but before we start looking at changing how teachers/schools/society's views and attitude towards learning, students need to change their attitude to their learning, or it won't make a difference.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    My district went to standards-based grading several years ago. Each standard is listed and the student gets a 1-4 rating for each one. The pro is that it is a more accurate representation of the skills they have. The con is that parents don't really understand it as well as the traditional A-F system. There is a seperate area of the report card where students are rated on behavior and effort. I've always been very curious as to how this works at our high school; unfortunately I don't know any of the HS teachers or I'd ask. I would think they would have to somehow come up with a GPA for students that are applying to colleges as well as for determining things like class rank. I feel like things can't be that drastically different than when I was applying to colleges about 10 years ago- GPA was a huge indicator of what kind of schools you could get into as well as what kind of scholarships you could get, both from the colleges and from outside agencies.
     
  16. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    The larger issue at play is that there are no real consequences behaviorally or academically which fuels it. If students fail, so what? They still pass. If they're disrespectful and defiant... we can ask them ''to make better choices,'' but that doesn't solve the problem. Students know that we have no power and so they play it right up.
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    We also use standards based grading as well.

    This is why I think conferring with students about their work is most powerful. Soccer coaches don't wait until after the big game to give tips to their players on how to play better....but somehow teachers think feedback should come after the "big game". We need to be on the sidelines, coaching our students as they go through the learning process.

    I definitely believe in benchmarks and grade-level expectations (that are clear because you do need to report out if a student is or is not meeting those benchmarks), but I don't believe in grades because they don't tell the story of what a student is or is not doing. Like you say, that's just an average of a set of assignments, which still tell me nothing.
     
  18. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    We are all about growth mindset at my school, and I would argue that it does make a difference. Students embrace their mistakes and we celebrate them. They are working to improve themselves everyday, whereas before they felt ashamed and defeated by their mistakes.
     
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  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    I think a lot of the issue is also seen in other areas, such as sports.

    Many sports are competitive, and some kids feed into that and improve because of it. Others, though, shut down--especially if they're not particularly good to begin with. I'm sure with academics it's the same, excerpt perhaps that grades are often not really an indicator of proficiency (class participation, behavior, and homework clearly don't always reflect actual learning, and tests sometimes don't).
     
  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    Instructionally standards - based grading makes sense to me. To be able to point to a standard and say this is how he is doing is common sense. But parents can be confused. Ironically we were told that standards based grading is supposed to make a child ''feel better'' as well. So instead of saying ''He has a 50 in math, we're supposed to say he's "Falling Far Below." Yeah because that's so much better. :roll:
    We used "FAME" grades:

    Falls Far Below
    Approaching
    Meeting
    Exceeds
     
  21. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I went to a very competitive high school and it was not a great experience. Academically, I was very prepared for college but the stress of grades did not make for a very good 4 years. We have recently had several students commit suicide believed to be due to stress.

    I am a big fan of standards based grading although I could see how this would be much more work for the teacher. I also think that students should have the opportunity to redo their work based on teacher comments. Otherwise, students don't really look at their comments and learn from them. I took a psychology class in college where we could resubmit anything we wanted. The class was great and we all learned a lot. Some people might say that this is unfair to students who learned it the first time but I don't think it really matters a lot.
     

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