Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Effort Based Grading

I got a B- geometry second semester. I also happened to get 85% or better on every test. So, how did I get 81% in the class? My geometry teacher graded our homework based on accuracy, not effort. To this day, they were the only teacher I’ve had that did this. Don’t get me wrong, I think that we should still check our work for mistakes and fix them appropriately, but centering the actual homework score based on accuracy is a bad idea. 

Effort-based or labor-based grading was made popular by Asao B. Inoue, an English professor at Arizona State University who has written books on the subject. In his classes, students are guaranteed a B if they meet the following criteria: 

  • Miss no more than two classes out of 15 per semester.
  • Come to class on time.
  • Work in groups “cooperatively and collegially.”
  • Turn in writing assignments on time, other than for exceptions spelled out on the syllabus.

By doing this, Inoue hopes to eliminate linguistic and cultural biases that may occur with accuracy-based grading. He says that labor-based approaches aim to remove the focus from grades without removing the focus on quality.

The way I see it, homework is the time to mess up so that you can fix it and get it right on the test. But you shouldn’t be penalized for making the natural mistakes of learning a new topic. Being penalized for trying will cause kids to give up and stop submitting assignments altogether. 

In addition, effort-based grading allows students to look beyond the grade and actually change what they got wrong. Assigning an actual grade to homework can cause kids to not look at the feedback presented and just focus on the actual grade. Alfie Kohn, an author on children’s behavior, found that grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.  

“A ‘grading orientation’ and a ‘learning orientation’ have been shown to be inversely related and, as far as I can tell, every study that has ever investigated the impact on the intrinsic motivation of receiving grades has found a negative effect,” He writes. 

One argument against effort-based grading is that kids can scribble down a couple of incoherent sentences and get the same score as someone who did the work correctly. This is implausible because there is a clear distinction between someone who did their best and someone who just completed it to get it over with.  Plus, this implies that when effort-based grading is used, the teacher doesn’t actually check the work and just puts in the points, when in reality, this isn’t true. Teachers can still collect work and give feedback while simultaneously using effort-based grading. 

Considering all this, saying that effort-based grading is just protecting the lazy is absurd, and this grading system should be widely used in public schools. It removes the pressure of getting a good grade on the homework and allows kids to make mistakes and learn from them. 


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