Link to What's New This Week Standards to Measure Learning

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Definitions of Standards

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: December 24, 2001
Reviewed: January 29, 2001; August 6, 2003
Latest Update: june, 2004
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Index of Topics on Site Standards in Grading: The Five C's
competence, communiction, consistency, cooperation, creativity
This file offers guidance for you on how to measure your learning in ways that will best reflect your learning style and strengths.

Grades can be important feedback when they are collaborative and used to guide further learning. They are harmful when they become reified ends in their own right, when they become commodified. (References: Alfie Kohn and James J. O'Donnell) This section describes the ways we provide for you to let us know what you have studied and learned.

Our overall grading criteria are based on competence, communication, consistency, cooperation, and creativity . Your coursework must show scholarly discipline in conceptually linking your learning to theory, policy, practice, and to course readings and discussions, with appropriate citations to academic sources, and to effective sharing of your thoughts as you shape them. Learning comes from an exchange of ideas, not from memorizing what someone else thought, and not without the challenge of others' arguments.

Grading Standards with Examples:

Competence, Communication, Consistency, Cooperation, and Creativity

  1. Competence

    The five Cs continue to represent our standards for evaluation. We expect your work to be competent, meaning that it should reflect a minimal acquaintance with the reading materials and discussion questions. No off the wall definitions of "forgiveness" will satisfy us. Competence, for us, is indicated by your ability to merge what you are reading and discussing in class with your own thought systems and beliefs. To indicate that you are competent you need to reflect to us that you understand the concepts and issues we have introduced.

    We will help if we can. For example when Joanna Carillo tried to explain agency and structural context, she was confused in her application of the concepts. We drew pictures and gave explanations, and added Michael Planck's comments. That helped all of us understand the concepts more effectively. Read Joanna's and Michael's dialog on this at Academic Discourse on Agency and Structural Context.

  2. Communication

    We expect each of you to communicate with us, so that we come to know you and your learning. Anyone can follow a reading list. Meaningful learnings come when we stretch the corners of each others' minds by looking at these concepts from the multiple perspectives that come from our myriad unique experiences.

    This is very much a part of measuring your learning, for we cannot know your learning without a narrative context in which to situate it. Look at how much Gary McCullouch told me about himself in Aboriginal Justice. Gary's interest in the Olympics and in aboriginal justice encouraged me to include more information in these areas, and helped me understand his genuine interests in learning. When job constraints later caused him to miss several classes, I could be much more understanding. We form judgments based on our interactions. Your communication with us helps us to form individual judgments that fit the situatedness in which you actually find yourself.

    Another example: Lisette Garcia shared with us her excitement at the inclusion of art in our measures of learning in Sylvia Snowden's Tribute to Her Son, Malik. This, too, helps me to know Lisette, and gives me a context against which to understand her learning.

    Another student didn't understand that she was to review the academic discourse dialog and correct her misconception. She sent another e-mail with the same confusion in the concept. I yelped. But because we had had many conversations and exchanges, I realized from her demeanor that she really hadn't understood the process. She had been so excited at having her work on the site, she had just stopped to admire it! Talking with you, and writing to you, over time, helps me as well as you, to understand the bumpy road to learniing. That's why we insist that you communicate with us in some way. That's how you overcome intimidation.

    And sometimes I just don't get it. E-mails get lost. Deadlines impinge. Conferences delay us. We get sick. It's important that you check in and talk to your teacher. If not in class, then in the office, or by e-mail. When I know you, then I take you into account as a person, in all your complexity and agency.

  3. Consistency

    We expect your work to show consistency. A class is like a longitutinal study. In the first few weeks there will be much confusion over concepts and issues, but as we continue, you become comfortable with those first concepts and begin to use them effectively. We schedule workshops, office discussions, and field trips. That allows us lots of time for face-to-face interaction. If something happens, and you have to miss some time, be sure that you let us know. E-mail is probably the best way, because that gives us a record.

    It is really unacceptable to miss either physically or spiritually most of what is going on in class, and then try to catch up at the last moment. What you learn when you cram is not equivalent to what you learn through discussion, repetition, and clarification over time.

    Here's an example of how Tina Juen kept in touch when there was a crunch: The Slippery Slope of Challenge when Just Plain Loving Would Do. Because I knew Tina and knew the context in which to place her messages, I knew how to interpret this, even though she said very little. I don't always have the time to answer in such detail, and I would expect you to then complete some brief message to let me know that we are communicating effectively, to know that you understood the conceptual linking I suggested. Another reason why I need to know each of you.

    Tina's staying in touch e-mail resulted in Why Include the Study of Religion? That resulted not from e-mail, but from exchanges in and out of the theory class about whether or not religion should even be discussed in an academic setting. I hope this piece will illustrate for you that you have many alternatives in these classes for expressing yourself.

    It is not acceptable to send six writings in at once and then not communicate for weeks at a time, for that does not give us a narrative we can follow of your learning growth. It is through dialog that we learn, and a dialog does not work well when no one speaks for weeks.

  4. Cooperation

    Our emphasis on cooperation reflects our philosophical commitment to mutuality and peacemaking as reflecting a potentially realizable reversal of the adversarialism with which humans once faced survival in the natural world. We respect and value the generosity of spirit in seeking ways to serve the whole community, not just its elite or advantaged members.

    Look at an example of how such cooperation works: Look, Ma! I discovered Content Analysis! Carolyn Gilmore and Jenny and Jeanne Anderson worked and wrote together. For Jeanne, a music teacher, for Jenny, who had had a previously course in statistics that had not filtered in so deeply, and for Carolyn, this meant not only understanding the role of statistics in ways they won't forget, but also seeing how each of them was able to incorporate such learning into their quotidien experience.

    There were groups like Carolyn's all over the lab, where students discovered how varied and versatile their experience was, and learned through the camaraderie to include the teacher. In a statistics class we had fun! Gary McCullouch had such a group, and so did Wesley Hall and Brian Morris, and Julio Cesar Pais and Frances Caardona. There were many, across all the classes, and sometimes with classes intermingled in the groups. Learning becomes something to be shared, with friends and family, and teachers, too.

    All of us discovered, too, that no one was lost anymore, once they all discovered that the objective was to see that everyone found what they needed, that everyone help everyone else to learn. People who had come in terrified of the computer, in all the classes, learned to be fairly competent at finding their way around the Internet, at the very least with the help of classmates. Jeanne Anderson, who had once been patronized by a musician in learning electronic music, learned to see that simple assumption that she could not hold her own in the world of the computer as a patronizing adversarial approach that harmed her. She achieved considerable efficiency at finding her own way on the Internet.

  5. Creativity

    Creativity is shown by giving specific evidence of the way in which a concept or issue is affecting you. Look at Tina Juen's reaction to Henry and Milovanovic's transformation and replacement discourse. A valid concern, how the replacement discourse of one class may not carry over to another. A concern that led to considerable discussion both in and out of the classroom.

    Here's another example. Donna Woods approaches the definition of crime in Crime as Disrespect and "Knowingness". Once you begin to tell us what you are thinking, then we can effectively pick up the dialog and make it available to everyone on the site. That way we can all contribute to the dialog in a meaningful and cooperative way to foster exciting discussions in our face-to-face time.