Spring Teaching Forum 2014


The Yale Teaching Center presents its annual teaching forum: “Are All Yale Students ‘A’ Students? A Forum on Grading.”

What is the role of grading in higher education? In light of current debates about grading at Yale, we invite you to join us in a campus-wide conversation about the purpose and practice of grading. The forum will explore questions including:

  • How has grading at Yale changed over time?
  • Why do we grade?
  • How does grading affect student learning?
  • What can we learn from alternative grading systems at peer institutions?
  • What does it mean to be an effective teacher and an effective grader?

The forum will bring together members of the Yale administration, faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and other members of the teaching community with the goal of sharing our differing perspectives. We aim to test our assumptions about grading and to take a critical look at our current grading practices. Participants may also expect to come away with concrete strategies for grading effectively and efficiently in their own courses.  

Location: Sterling Memorial Library (SML) Lecture Hall (Wall Street entrance)

Registration. Please register here.

For more information, please contact: Stacey Blase or Daniel Jones

Preliminary Agenda

8:30 a.m., Coffee & light breakfast

9:00 a.m., Introduction

  • Risa Sodi, Interim Director, Yale Teaching Center; Director of Academic Advising, Yale College Dean’s Office

9:15 a.m., The History of Grading at Yale  

  • Penelope Laurans, Special Assistant to the President, Master of Jonathan Edwards College and Lecturer in English

9:45 a.m., Grading and the STEM Fields

  • Scott Strobel, Vice President, Yale West Campus Planning and Programming, and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

10:30 a.m., Coffee break

10:45 a.m., Thinking Beyond the Conventions: Alternative Approaches to Grading

  • Elizabeth Colagiuri, Associate Dean of the College and secretary to the Committee on Grading, Princeton University

Princeton’s grading policy since 2004 has set a common grading standard, under which As — A+, A, A- — may only account for less than 35% of the grades given in undergraduate courses and less than 55% of the grades given in junior and senior independent work 

  • Steven E. James, Interim Dean & Chief Academic Officer, Goddard College (Vermont)
             Narrative evaluations at Goddard address scholarship and personal and professional development for each student, for each
             course of study.
  • Julie B. Norman, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT freshmen are graded Pass/No Record in the fall and in the January Independent Activities Period, and ABC/No Record in the spring

12:00 p.m., Lunch (provided with registration)

12:45 p.m., The Present of Grading at Yale

  • Stuart Paul Duncan GRD ’16, Music
  • Douglas McKee, Associate Chair and Lecturer, Department of Economics 
  • Ramamurti Shankar, John Randolph Huffman Professor of Physics & Applied Physics
  • Emily Ullmann YC ‘14, American Studies; Timothy Dwight College

2:00 Concluding Remarks

Related Links

  1. Women Should Embrace the B’s in College to Make More Later” (Catherine Rampell, Washington Post)
  2. First-year grading at M.I.T.
  3. Grading at Hampshire College
  4. Grading at Princeton University
  5. Forums Revive Grading Policy Discussion” (Yuval Ben-David, Yale Daily News, February 2014)
  6. “Revised Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Grading” (Yale University, April 2013)
  7. How to Get a Job at Google” (Thomas Friendman, New York Times)
  8. On essay grading software (New York Times)
  9. A history of grade inflation (New York Times “Economix” blog)
  10. Leaked! Harvard’s Grading Rubric” (New York Times)
  11. How to grade students’ work online (Yale Center for Language Study blog post)
  12. Yale the First School to Make the Grades” (Jim Willard, Loveland, CO, Reporter-Herald)
  13. The Case Against Grades,” Alfie Kohn (Educational Leadership, 2011)
  14. The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation” (Alfie Kohn, Chronicle of High Education, 2002)