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Lesson 2: The History of Grading (Dr. Brian Williams)

In this session, Dr. Brian Williams of Eastern University presents the history of grading. He begins by describing some approaches to assessment used in the Middle Ages and then moves to the divergence from those approaches in the modern period.

Recommended Reading
Outline of Session

Discussion Questions
  • Dr. Brian Williams discusses that the result of a “leaving exam” at Oxford was to direct a student toward future-oriented tasks rather than proclaim a verdict like a judge, prompting the student to leave behind what has been judged. Would this kind of response to an exam help to combat the cram-test-forget cycle that so many students experience? How can you incorporate exam results that direct students toward future-oriented tasks?
  • Discuss how your grading system does or does not serve pedagogical ends, institutional ends, and transactional ends at your school or homeschool.
  • Discuss how your current grading system could possibly contribute toward curiositas, which is a moral vice of the appetite that misuses the intellect.
  • At the end of the presentation, Dr. Brian Williams states the following: “Our hope is not only that we learn to grade virtuously but that we that we do so in ways that actually nurture the formation of the moral, intellectual, and affective virtue in our students. And we want this because we believe that their virtuous formation contributes directly to their flourishing and the flourishing of the cultures, societies, churches, and schools that they will go on and help create.” Why must we consider how our grading will form our students? Discuss how you might grade virtuously. How does your grading system allow for virtuous formation of your students?
Assignments and Action Steps

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