Friday, September 01, 2006

Student Collaboration and the Token System of Grading

Collaboration and the Token System of Grading

For the past three years, I’ve altered my pedagogy in all my courses, trying to work my way out of a role that seems to be disappearing before my eyes anyway, that of the professor. I realized that lecturing was not good pedagogy, that it reinforced the passivity in my students I wanted to subvert, and that I was bored out of my mind with teaching. Simultaneously, a professor from Melbourne University had been hired to promote faculty teaching with colleagues and students overseas. He conceptualized this process as global learning with the expectation that students would come to understand their own and others cultural assumptions through working together and reflecting on that process. Online technologies such as our campus online learning environment, videoconferencing, email, are all means for enabling the process of what he calls “cage painting.”

While my colleague saw himself as the conceptualizer of global learning, I saw global learning as something that could be disassembled and reassembled. As his student, I engaged him with his own cultural assumptions including assumptions about what constituted “culture,” and whether “culture” could do the work of “unlearning” I wanted my students to do in relationship to their Palestinian counterparts, etc. I enthusiastically jumped in and started breaking his toy apart. One piece that I use is the token system of grading, which is a very powerful way of encouraging collaboration among students, because it requires students to assess each other. Their assessment modifies mine.

Example: 20 pt. assignment

My grade for group x, Assignment #2=17 out of 20
Number of tokens to distribute is determined by group size (i.e. 4 members=15; 5=20; 6=25):


Here’s the math for how I modify my grade by the tokens:
Name tokens rec/tokens poss frac % % x pts. instr. assigns group
Mary 20/20 1.0 or 100% 1.00x17=17
Sue 20/20 1.0 or 100% 1.00x17=17
Diana 15/20 .75 75% .75 x17=12.75
Kathy 24/20 1.0 100% 1.00x17=17
Linda 19/20 .95 95% .95x17=16.15

From the tokens, it seems that Diana’s participation was lacking, as reflected by the fact that she ended up with fewer tokens. Kathy seemed to have overcompensated for Sue and maybe Linda’s performance, but since no one can receive more than 100% of pts., Kathy got the full percentage of my grade but no more for maybe rescuing the group’s performance. Each group members total points earned on that assignment reflects that reality. The token system is designed to discourage both slacking and rescuing.

1 comment:

Katie King said...

I'm not sure I understand how the tokens are distributed. The students give them to each other? In what sort of way: actual physical tokens during the exercise, after? or in evals of each other?

More details, please! Katie