three college students sitting at a table working together

One of the main reasons I switched from traditional grading was to find a system that would reduce bias in grading. Everyone has a bias—myself included. I want to remain objective when I give feedback and ultimately input a grade for the work. In the Summer of 2023, I read a ton about alternative grading to find a system to implement in my courses with a keen eye toward systems that reduced bias, were simple, and reinforced feedback and growth.

So far, Specifications Grading with feedback of “Success, Not Done Yet, and Complete” with unlimited revisions feels better than my old points-connected rubric of “Exemplary, Mastery, Developing, Beginning, Incomplete.” Still, I check myself every day to reduce implicit bias. Learners in my courses deserve it. It is my responsibility.

Jayme Dyer, Ph.D., wrote a fantastic article titled Ungrading Has an Equity-Related Achilles Heel at Grading for Growth, discussing implicit bias in ungraded courses. It makes a strong case for why the openness of ungrading, while well-intentioned, places a lot of control in instructors’ hands. Check it out.

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