Faculty of Math Teaching Seminar

Thursday, June 16, 2022 1:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Xinli Wang, University of Manitoba

"Mastery-based grading in a second-year mathematics course"

Most math courses rely heavily, if not solely, on summative assessments. Students often miss the point of assessments and rank grading as the main purpose of assessments. One of the inevitable responses to high stakes testing, wherein students' test scores are highly consequential, is cheating. When grade is the only thing that matters, students are more likely to cheat to get a higher score. In this project, we will offer an alternative to communicate with students about their learning. Instead of using numerical grade, we’ll introduce the idea of contract-based grading, or mastery-based grading, and explore whether it promotes students’ learning for a second-year mathematics course. Mastery-based grading promotes growth mindset and offers students space and time to make mistakes, and progress. It is a more equitable form of assessment for students from different socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, or geographic backgrounds.

The whole course comprises of 22 learning objectives (LO) and each one will be tested multiple times. Students receive written feedback of their work instead of grades, until they have mastered the topic. There are 4 categories that students’ work at placed into: E= Excellence, M=Meets Expectations, R=Revision needed, and N=Not Assessable. Their goal is to earn as many E’s as possible. in the end of the semester, based on the number of E’s they earned, they will be assigned a letter grade. Students have the opportunity to assess each other’s work and offer suggestions for their peers to improve. Each student also does presentations in-class on a regular basis.