A North Dakota State University research fellow received $300,000 to study “equitable teaching and grading practices,” an award funded by the COVID Relief Program

Tara Slominski, a postdoctoral fellow at North Dakota State University, was awarded $300,000 in July for research into “equitable teaching and grading practices for rural and nontraditional students.” According to the award summary, all or part of the research will be funded by the American Bailout Act of 2021, which was initiated to “provide immediate assistance to American workers” as an emergency COVID relief program.

That Prize awarded by the National Science Foundation and is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2023.

That College Fix reports that Slominski and her supervisor at NDSU, Jennifer Momsen, explored alternative options to traditional grading practices to create more “equitable” learning environments for students.

‘Common classroom practices such as grading and the use of grades to assess knowledge and performance can have unintended consequences for students, who invariably derive an awareness of their own academic ability from the outcomes of these assessment structures,’ explained the postdoctoral research grant project abstract. “Indeed, these traditional practices can inadvertently create and foster inequalities between different student groups, particularly in large-enrollment courses, but these issues have been largely unexplored.”

Slominski’s research project hypothesized that “non-traditional and rural students are particularly vulnerable to the limitations of traditional grading when used in high-enrollment STEM courses”.

The project aims to offer educators a new approach to assessment that addresses “the systemically unfair” aspects of current assessment methods and promotes “fairer learning environments for students in general”.

Momsen, professor and director of life sciences at NDSU, has done extensive research on alternative assessment approaches to create “equitable” courses.

In a recent presentation Entitled “Creating Equitable Courses Through Alternative Grading Approaches,” Momsen argued that traditional grading methods can be “inaccurate,” “biased,” and “demotivating.” The professor’s presentation states that grades do not always accurately reflect a student’s knowledge or learning process.

Momsen detailed the changes she made to her classroom, including allowing exams to be retaken, implementing self-assessed assignments, and proposing due dates. In addition, the professor said she no longer penalizes tardiness, marks assignments with a number or letter, or uses an average to calculate final grades for students.

in a (n Blog post August 2020Momsen explained how she sets a final grade for students, as it is a university requirement.

“I didn’t assume that the usual 50% is an F (meaning a student must demonstrate knowledge of 5+ standards to even pass the class),” Momsen wrote. “Borrowing an idea from Grading for Equity, I took a 4-point scale approach. Grades of F should be fairly rare and only ‘given’ when a student never shows or completes assignments. Experience has taught me in this course, you only fail when you intentionally do nothing. The remaining notes, AD, I, are evenly distributed over the 8 standards. This helps re-orient the course away from failure – there are many more paths to success.”

Slominski did not respond to a request for comment, and Momsen declined to comment, the College Fix reported.

https://www.theblaze.com/news/north-dakota-state-university-research-fellow-awarded-300000-to-study-equitable-classroom-and-grading-practices-award-funded-by-covid-relief-program A North Dakota State University research fellow received $300,000 to study “equitable teaching and grading practices,” an award funded by the COVID Relief Program

Laura Coffey

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