Monday, December 7, 2009

Case Against Using Letter Grades

Kohn, Alfie. "From Degrading to De-Grading." High School Magazine, March 1999.

In this article, Kohn makes a case against using letter grades in schools. He expresses that the arguments for grades as necessary for student motivation are incorrect. Grades should not be used as bribes or " instrument of control..." (5) because they do not really tell us "...about what a student can do, what she understands, where she needs help." (2) Instead, students should be motivated by the work for "...what matters is how students are motivated. It is the type of motivation that counts, not the amount." (4) For if the students are motivated by grades, then they will choose the option that allows them to achieve the better grade not more knowledge. He suggests that instead of using grades, teachers should devise criteria for excellence with their students and use these as discussion points with the students when evaluating the work. One alternative to grades is for students to receive written comments from the teacher about the work or have student-lead conferences. In short, Kohn feels that the way students are evaluated should change so that it is not a competition.

This article made some great points that challenge the age old practice of grading. However, the data used was never fully explained. Kohn would state that a study found a specific finding however no numbers were shown and the study itself was not explained. There would just be an in-text citation to the study. Thus, the information appeared to be more like generalizations to support his point. Also, the findings presented to represent the opposing point of view were always quickly debunked.

No comments:

Post a Comment