Assessments Stories

Natalie Alvarez

Natalie Alvarez

Professor, School of Performance

Courses: THF 403 – Landmarks in Canadians Theatre; THF 402 – Text Examination: Dramaturgy and Direction

Strategy: Specifications grading

Natalie Alvarez recognized that learning during a pandemic would mean more challenges for her students, not just in their coursework, but in their personal lives.

This led her to radically rethink how she would grade her students’ achievements in the class.

After some research, she decided to try Specifications Grading, an approach which provides students with a choice. Letter grades are assigned to bundles of tasks. Each task in the bundle must be completed according to a set of specifications in order to achieve the letter grade. This way, students can determine the amount of time and effort they will dedicate to the course and know exactly what they need to do to achieve their desired grade.

Students were also provided with tokens they could redeem, no questions asked, for an extension, or to resubmit an assignment.

Natalie recognized this was a radical change from what she and her students were accustomed to, but her students embraced it. By having the ability to choose what worked for them without judgement, it alleviated stress and allowed them to focus on the learning rather than grades.