3F: Flexibility for Students to Demonstrate Understanding: Standards-Based Grading in Statistics Courses

Jillian Downey (Gustavus Adolphus College) & Brenna Curley (Moravian College)


Standards-based grading (SBG) is an alternative to “traditional” grading that allows multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning outcomes in a course. Because SBG allows for more flexibility, it is believed to be a more equitable assessment technique for students with diverse learning styles and background knowledge. Further, SBG promotes a growth mindset and embraces constructive failure, which can help students feel comfortable and confident in their statistics abilities. While not a new approach to grading, our goal is to bring more awareness to SBG in statistics education and encourage instructors to explore alternative assessment options.

Implementation of SBG requires the development of specific, transparent, and assessable standards. Further, SBG requires a completely different way of thinking about assessment by both the instructor and the students. In this breakout session, we will introduce SBG, discuss the development of course standards to use SBG assessment, and brainstorm ways to incorporate this grading approach into a class in small-scale pieces, all while sharing our personal experiences utilizing SBG. We hope participants will walk away with an understanding of the general concept of standards-based grading and its benefits (for students and instructors), an appreciation of the challenges of developing assessable course learning outcomes, and some ideas for implementing standards-based grading on a small-scale (e.g., a single assignment or on just a subset of the course). This breakout session will involve short presentations interspersed with small group guided activities for developing standards and brainstorming implementation possibilities.

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