Mastery Grading AIM Demo

Work-In-Progress notes for my presentation

Posted by Steven Clontz on November 20, 2019

The majority of this presentation is anticipated to be a demonstration of various tools I use or have created for mastery grading, but here are a few notes that I’ll be using during my talk.

Credit goes to Dr. Drew Lewis who provided his slides on “Standards Based and Specifciations Grading” which inspired some of this talk.

Opening Activities

  • What are some reasons for assigning grades to students?
  • What grade do the following students deserve?

table of grades - credit D Lewis

  • What are some benefits of percentage-based grading systems?

Axioms of Mastery Grading

  • I am more interested in what students learn than when they learn it or how many tries it takes them to learn it.
  • Students are not all like me. They are wonderfully diverse in so many ways.
  • Any single assessment is not a valid measure of learning.
  • Learning takes time and involves mistakes.
  • Grades should represent eventual understanding rather than speed/time required.
  • We learn more from failure than success. So providing opportunities to fail without penalty (and therefore incentives to try despite the fear of failure) is critical to an effective grading system.
  • Conversations with students are best when they are about math or tacos.
  • Misconceptions snowball; don’t let them take root.
  • The grading structure of the class should help motivate student learning.
  • Learning comes from mistakes.
  • The incentive structure of grades should encourage good learning behaviors.
  • Final grades should be as pure a function of student learning as possible.

What is Mastery Grading?

According to

  • Mastery grading is an approach to student assessment in which student work is graded directly on whether it demonstrates mastery of a clear list of objectives.
  • Rather than using points or partial credit, final grades are based on the degree of mastery each student has demonstrated of the objectives by the end of the course.
  • Students typically have (or can earn) multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of each objective.
  • Mastery grading puts emphasis on learning, provides clarity for students, and encourages perseverance and growth mindset.