Wednesday, June 29, 2005

MULLING OVER DECENTRALIZED TEACHING

Have any of you experimented with having your own students set course requirements? I'm planning a course that relates to democracy and freedom and I thought that it would be a good idea to involve students in the creation of the course and its requirements.

How far to take such a system? At Famous U where I used work, I knew of faculty who allowed students to self-grade and who claimed that students graded themselves fairly. I was surprised to learn that the Supreme Court had weighed in on the subject in Falvo vs. Owasso School System. See the Harvard University Gazette article "Self-grading gets an 'A' from researchers" for more information on the case and on the positive spin researchers put on self-asessment. Robin Keehn of Cal State San Marcos documents the benefits of this approach in "Changing Places: Why I have Students Grade Their Own Essays First"in the Cal State on-line journalExchanges. And there's an interesting PDF report by Bruce Ross, Ph.D., titled "Student Self-Grading in a Bachelor of Physical Education Course." Report here (PDF).

For me, letting the students set the course requirements would require a pretty big leap of faith. The self-asessment part seems less daunting than the communal, "social experiment" dimensions of what I'm thinking about. Maybe it would be more practical to do something less ambitious, involving self-asessment and leave the rest alone.

3 Comments:

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Scott Eric Kaufman said...

I don't have time to read all the links, but there's one essential part of self-grading you didn't mention that's crucial to it's success: having them read numerous examples of other essays (some successful, others not). They need to build a fund from which they can draw their self-assessments. I've talked about this before here.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger academic coach said...

I can't wait to hear how you structure this.

 
At 10:15 PM, Anonymous S.C.D. said...

I'm a parent of 5 children, 2 now in college, one in High School, one in Jr. High and the last in Elementary. I do not want my children grading others work due to the possible ramifications that could ensue. I don't know what causes a student to declare "WAR" on his classmates and to go into a school shooting. Should my child ever be the target of another, I would certainly look to the school for my answers (and possible law suit), and if it were ever discovered that my child had "grading" contact with an afflicted child that led them to harm my child, I would go after the teacher, district and state for allowing this practice to take place. Since it cannot be fully determined what causes a student to go into a killing spree, I just wouldn’t want this to ever come into play. Let the student have the benefit of immediate learning from self-grading. Look at the Montessori concepts of using the self-correcting methods and the success that have had. Let my children develop their morals of what it is that I have been trying to teach them, and let them grow rich in dignity, integrity and the principles to go and achieve in this world. Who will they hurt if they are not honest with themselves? It will only be to themselves. Let them learn all that they can, NOT just the basics of the material being taught.

 

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