I’m speechless.

22 02 2013

From Salon:

I spoke on Wednesday with Daphne Koller, one of the founders of Coursera, the Stanford spinoff that is one of the big players in the for-profit MOOC world. She vigorously disputed the notion that the MOOC model was less appropriate for humanities education than for the hard sciences. Koller believes that with the right grading “rubric” students can grade each other’s papers even on issues of critical reasoning and grammar, thus solving seemingly daunting logistics problems.

[Emphasis added]

Let the mocking begin posthaste.

Update: OK, my head has recovered after exploding earlier this morning. I’m going to put together a longer post on this for Monday. For now, my working title is “The magic rubric,” so nobody is allowed to steal that in the meantime, OK?



10 responses

22 02 2013

In order to believe in the legitimacy of what she’s doing, it must be true that students can effectively grade each other’s work. Ergo, it IS true. Surely you’ve heard of the “correspondence theory of truth,” in which a claim is true because it corresponds to our desires?

22 02 2013


She might want to take a look at this story on IHE today, about students who successfully boycott final exams and are rewarded with As: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/22/look-back-another-successful-final-exam-boycott

I’m sure the students learn something by executing this exam strategy, but it ain’t the lessons I’d want them to learn in a history or lit class, for example.

22 02 2013

Presumably, “the right grading rubric” would describe in simple terms some of the obvious and countable features of what students are already doing, and then reward those things. Why didn’t we think of that in “regular” college? See what students can already do, make those things the grading criteria, and then dole out As for work that succeeds according to the rubric. Holy moly.

22 02 2013
Contingent Cassandra

Well, if you want to make creating and implementing and checking the implementation of the rubric a substantial focus of class energy/time (as is sometimes done in composition classes, sometimes to good effect), it might work. But you need a teacher (or, if you’re going massive, many teachers) keeping a close eye on the process. As is the case with many activities aimed at developing skills (starting with having toddlers feed and/or dress themselves), it’s considerably more time- consuming for someone experienced to supervise the inexperienced as they implement a process (and clean up any mess/fix any mistakes that result) than to implement the process him/herself. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Koller has in mind.

22 02 2013
Contingent Cassandra

On the other hand, it might be sort of fun to watch students go to virtual war over half-remembered grammar rules (not to mention the real debates over punctuation, etc.; didn’t the MOOC you audited feature debates over British vs. American spelling?).

And watching them evaluate each others’ citation (possibly without awareness that there are varying systems)? That would be interesting.

Mind you, I regularly have students provide feedback to each other, but that just means that I’m aware of the pitfalls (as well as the potential value) of the process, and how much work making it work well entails.

22 02 2013
J Liedl

Wow. I’m a big fan of rubrics to let students see how I’m assessing their work but even so, I can’t see a rubric guiding an undergraduate to create an informed and helpful assessment of a peer’s work.

Peer review is something we do a lot in the social sciences and humanities. As you well know, it is NOT the same as teaching!

23 02 2013

So let me get this straight: People without content knowledge and without training in critical reasoning (or training in evaluating critical reasoning) will magically be able to evaluate content knowledge and reasoning given the “right rubric”? That sounds a little like those software programs that will give a perfect score to an essay as long as it has plenty of dates, even if they’re wrong: “The Civil War ended in 1712, when George Washington declared that the U. S. would join the League of Nations.”

24 02 2013
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