Ungrading Traffic Light

In Spring-On-Call this semester, we are reading Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning. A guiding principle rising to the surface is that ungrading is not an all or nothing philosophy. In fact, most faculty must assign traditional grades in some fashion (even if just final grades). That does not mean how we arrive at these grades must be founded in a rigid points or weights system.


In the spirit of making "small teaching moves" - you may opt try a small ungrading experiment in a course to see how it feels for you and your students. If you feel compelled to refresh the way you assess student work (and experience all of the other benefits of ungrading), check out our Ungrading Traffic Light infographic below.



Ungrading Traffic Light
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Ungrading Traffic Light

Shifting focus to feedback


Identify Objectives

Identify the objectives or critical competencies aligned with an assignment and share them with students early and often.


Assess Assignments with Red, Yellow, or Green

  • Green = achieves objectives

  • Yellow = developing competency + assignment may be revised and resubmitted

  • Red = does not meet criteria + assignment may be revised and resubmitted after conferencing with the instructor to review assignment feedback

Use a Custom Grade Symbol

Use custom symbols/grade schemes in the LMS grade book to avoid displaying traditional numerical or letter grades.


Provide Wise/Warm Feedback

Wise Feedback builds trust between the student and instructor. This approach provides constructive criticism, reinforces your use of high standards, and assures the student you believe they are capable of meeting these standards.


EX. "I am giving you this feedback because I have high standards and I know that you can meet them."


Encourage Students to Document Revisions

Ask students to explain how they addressed feedback when they submit revised work.

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