on Scrabble, French, and what it means to learn

- kudos:

In the summer of 2015, New Zealander Nigel Richards won the French-language world Scrabble championships despite not speaking a word of French. I heard this story on a Radio Télévision Suisse news show repackaged as a podcast (probably Le 12h30, but I can’t remember exactly) and wrote myself a note that if I ever got a chance to teach a class on games and learning, I would use this story in it.

assessment statements in my Spring 2024 graduate syllabus

- kudos:

I ended the Fall 2023 semester with a lot of anxiety and frustration about grades, and there was enough of both that I wound up making a lot of changes to a graduate class that I was sure I was going to keep mostly the same from last year. Not all of these changes were assessment-related (I replaced a lot of readings and shuffled content around some), but I also more-or-less threw out the assessment structure that I’ve been using since 2019 to replace it with something minimalist and closely tied to the course’s learning objectives.

on the arbitrary nature of grades

- kudos:

As often happens at the end of a semester, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about grades: What they mean, what purpose they serve, and how to best assign them. In thinking about this, I’m also thinking about a comment that a number of my colleagues put on each class syllabus: something to the effect of “I don’t give grades, you earn them.” These colleagues are gifted teachers whose examples I strive to follow, and I appreciate the sentiment behind their statement, but it’s also always struck me as oversimplifying what it means to grade.

- kudos:

Thanks to a combination of personal hubris and inconvenient coincidences, this week involves 4 presentations at 2 conferences, catching up on 3 weeks of grading, and writing P&T letters for 4 colleagues. Hooray for free wifi on my flights.

high school class rankings and the value-laden non-objectivity of quantitative measures

- kudos:

At the beginning of my senior year of high school, Tyler and I were neck and neck in class rankings—if memory serves, he was slightly ahead. This never got in the way of our friendship. We had spent too much time playing the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Roleplaying Game together, and a few years earlier, we’d even spent one memorable night with our mutual friend Chris hiking repeatedly back and forth between Tyler’s house and mine so that we could find the right hardware for hooking up someone’s GameCube to my family’s venerable TV so that we could play TimeSplitters 2.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The End of Grading | WIRED'

- kudos:

Somewhat meandering read, but I think there are interesting implications for both teaching and research. link to ‘The End of Grading | WIRED’

- kudos:

One of my academic pet peeves is when people use the word rigor as a validating synonym for something else, like “quantitative” or “giving out lots of Cs.” Rigor is important, but narrow definitions aren’t useful.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:55:21 on 'publish digital religion as international religion study'

- kudos:

Instead of grading (😬), I spent some time grabbing links and then starting to build a web scraper, though that’s enough of a pain that I might ask a friend to borrow his CrowdTangle access.

- kudos:

Ce matin, j’ai préparé du muësli fait-maison au lieu de faire des corrections, et je n’ai aucun sentiment de culpabilité.

end-of-semester thoughts on hating grading

- kudos:

When I was still an undergraduate student at BYU, I took a job as a student instructor for FREN 102, the second half of a two-course sequence in first-year French. I had a lot of weird experiences as an undergraduate student teaching and grading other undergraduate students, but the one that I remember this morning is the time that I held a student’s scholarship in my hand. I don’t remember the student’s name or much about her, except a vague recollection of her face and a couple of conversations with her.

- kudos:

In the Greenhalgh home, Mommy’s been sick for over a week, which means Daddy’s not gotten a lot of work done recently. Final grades are due tomorrow, though, so kiddo might get a lot of screen time today.

- kudos:

This semester, my efforts to trust students feel like they’re backfiring. I ungrade, but they don’t take work seriously. I never use plagiarism checkers, but I still have to deal with a last minute case. Not saying I’ll stop effort, but still sucks.

- kudos:

Family has been sick for the last week, and it’s been a struggle to keep up with grading even after cancelling nearly all my other commitments. Thought I was in the clear this morning, only for the first final project I opened to turn into suspected plagiarism. 😩

- kudos:

I feel like I am constantly fine-tuning how I do assessments in my classes. I want to trust students and avoid policing them, but I’m frustrated when they respond to this approach by acting like it exempts them from attending class and participating.

- kudos:

Cet après-midi, je fais des corrections en écoutant ma collection de musique francophone. Après une quinzaine d’années d’effort, je suis bien content de ce que je peux écouter quand je veux.

- kudos:

I know someone who apparently agreed to review three articles the same week as final grading, and boy does he look dumb staring back from the mirror.

- kudos:

One of those afternoons where I’m auditing someone’s analysis code, but it’s an analysis of 4M rows of data, so I’m also doing spurts of grading while I wait for code to execute.

- kudos:

The stress I feel when assigning final grades is compelling evidence that I would never make it as a judge.

- kudos:

Is my brain mush right now because grading is hard? Or is grading hard right now because my brain is mush?

- kudos:

Repeatedly stopping this afternoon to jot down notes for next offering of a particular course. Not sure if this makes me a good prof (thinking ahead) or a bad prof (I’m supposed to be grading)