Student Perspectives on Specifications Grading

How did students react to Specifications Grading being used in SCIE511/CMCL507? The following is a reflection on the course by one of Dr. Flanagan’s students.

Rachel Huh is a communications student at the University of Calgary. She took SCIE 511/CMCL 507 with Dr. Flanagan at the recommendation of another professor. She hoped to learn about effective tutoring skills, but found a much greater benefit from the course.

It was a little bit of an unfamiliar experience at first, but Rachel and her classmates found that Dr. Flanagan’s thorough explanation of how Specifications Grading worked was helpful. Once the initial hesitation disappeared, it became a really great experience.

Rachel notes how the grading scheme gave her more freedom to do what she wanted during assignments. There were more opportunities to reflect on the purposes of assessments. Her focus was no longer on how to go from an A to an A+, but on what she had learned from the different components of the course. Since the expectations were clear and straightforward, Rachel says she felt like she had the freedom to focus on her personal learning goals, instead of just trying to make a grade.

Rachel says “Specifications grading was a gift in disguise for me. At first I thought it made success in the course too easy but through time, I realized that this grading scheme allows students to not be distracted by the urgency of numerical grades. We could instead focus on the ways in which assessments are also learning experiences.”