Professor jennifer hurley

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Student Self-Feedback: One Key to Gradeless Classrooms

The first time I sat down to “not grade” a stack of student essays, I panicked a little bit. To read the papers without giving them a number, letter, or any evaluation whatsoever felt so disorienting that I went crazy providing narrative feedback. That day […]

How Meditation Changed My Teaching

It was an evening class in spring, a literature class held in the geology classroom. Rocks sat immobile in glass cases. Students sat at small tables, equally immobile. This was supposed to be my fun class: “Banned Books,” for literature majors. I had hoped to […]

Words I’d Like to Nix: Assessment

Almost twenty years ago, when I started teaching community college English, no one used the word assessment. Teachers assigned homework and group projects. They gave tests. Then this word started popping up, and soon, it became a major part of our job to “assess” whether […]

Lessons About Process-Oriented Feedback from Art Class

This semester, while on sabbatical from teaching, I entered a classroom as a student. I did so feeling as I think most of my students do: anxious, tentative, and totally lacking in confidence. This was a drawing class, and if I knew one thing it […]

Reasons to Stop Using Rewards and Punishments in the Classroom

Teachers, I know. Going into a classroom of willful, exhausted, and sugar-infused individuals without an ample supply of carrots and sticks—it’s sheer insanity. My carrots (the As, the extra credit points, the gold stars) and sticks (such as a big fat zero) are precious tools […]

I Stopped Grading. You Can, Too.

If you’re a teacher, at some point in your semester, you’ve been faced with a looming stack of papers or a horrifyingly complex spreadsheet that made you think, I am so done with this. Ah, what to do about grading? When I asked teachers at […]

My Current Grading Contract

Contract Grading Professor Hurley This course uses a form of grading called contract grading. There are no points or letter grades in this course, aside from the final letter grade you earn at the end. The premise of contract grading is that if you do […]

What If Education Were Not Punitive?

When I encounter my first-year college composition students, I’m continually surprised by their paranoia. “How many paragraphs do you want in my essay?” they ask. “My high school teacher took off points for every grammar error,” they say. My new college students see the educational […]

What Adam Rippon Teaches Us About Points

How can we measure the pure beauty of Adam Rippon’s figure skating? Is there a point value we can assign to his poise, his grace, his ability to evoke emotion on the ice? Adam Rippon did not have a high enough “technical score” in order […]

Vagueness: The Surprising Thing We Might Need More of in Education

Several semesters ago, I applied a concept called “Specifications Grading” to my composition and literature classes. If you are interested in alternatives to traditional grades, I recommend Specifications Grading by Linda Nilson. In this book, she explains ways that teachers can “specify” the requirements for a specific […]