When I started on this grading model journey, I thought the answer was simple: we’ll just get rid of traditional grades and everything else will follow. The reality, however, is much more complicated. This project unearthed a world of problems that weren’t familiar to me, from widespread student imposter syndrome to faculty anxiety about meeting tenure requirements for teaching work. It quickly became clear to me that while an institutional transition to non-traditional grading models might eventually be a plan worth pursuing, that is not the one and only solution, nor is it necessarily the most productive. Both students and faculty at Middlebury feel at times out of place in the institution, are dissatisfied with grading, and are searching for more meaning in their educational experience. By working together, instead of against each other, we can co-create a community that is really focused on learning.
The most important takeaway from this project is that although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to grading, there are better alternatives to traditional models. Institutions owe it to their faculty and students to be more flexible and accommodating with grading practices. Teachers owe it to their students and to themselves to assess and reassess their pedagogies. And finally, students owe it to themselves, their teachers, and future students to advocate and communicate for their education.