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From the Grade to the Web Site is the Thing:
Shifting the Grounds of Evaluation Toward Service Learning and a Collaborative Product on the World Wide Web

Bernard M. Timberg
School of Communication

Introduction

Though as Habermas and others have pointed out, the mapping of a physical sciences model on the human/social processes may be somewhat misleading, I am adopting here the language of an experiment. This is appropriate since the class I have run over a three-year period at East Carolina University was conceived as an experiment and carried out that way. But before laying out the hypothesis of the experiment, I would like to show one of its results: the home page of the web site for the Fall 2009 section of COMM 2320 Basic Reporting as it was constructed by its students.

2320-home

A number of things are immediately recognizable from this home page: the use of graphics and layout; the menu on the right side of the page that references the work of previous semesters of the class; the introduction of the site by the student editor.  The home page also shows right away, with the graphic centered at the top of the page, one of the major stories that captured the attention of the students this term: the national elections that pitted Barack Obama against John McCain, and which Obama had resoundingly won—though in the state of North Carolina itself the results were not clear until the very last votes were counted.  The second story featured in the class was equally dramatic, centering on the ups and downs and eventual triumph of the East Carolina University football team, the ECU “Pirates,” until they traveled to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis at the end of the season.

All of the stories that appear on the site, neatly organized into categories, addressed clearly defined communities of interest. The community of interest addressed by the national elections story was comprised of students at ECU who had been galvanized into new levels of awareness and action by the election.  The reports, which included multimedia PowerPoint presentations produced at the time of the elections on Nov 4, 2008,  showed how the elections had politicized students and made them more deeply aware of political, social and economic issues, but also explored the images and often superficial but skilled image-making campaigns that were aimed at students.  The coverage of the football team, with primary reporters turning out to be three football players from the class itself, was not just about winning and losing, but what winning and losing meant to the players and the fans.  Below is the home page of the site at www.comm2320.com, but those who want to go on line and explore the site further, clicking into the article, graphics, and audio and video links of  previous semesters from fall 2006 through fall 2008, are encouraged to do so.

The Hypothesis

In 1994, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) made a bold pronouncement: “RESOLVED, that teachers refrain as much as possible from using grades to evaluate and respond to student writing, using instead such techniques as narrative evaluations, written comments, dialogue journals, and conferences.” [1]

In Fall 2006, when handed an assignment in my new teaching job at East Carolina University to teach a basic reporting class, I decided to put this idea into practice: to refrain from grades as much a possible during the term and use other techniques to involve students and consciously wean them from the kind of grade by grade feedback that kept them from taking chances in developing their own voice and own ideas in reporting on the world around them.  I wanted a course that started with what they knew the best, themselves, their families and their friends, and then, becoming a clear professional form of informative communication, using traditional tropes of journalistic practice, moved into the wider world of the social needs and interests of communities outside their classrooms and living groups.  A central goal was to encourage student conceived, written and edited reports that served the communities reported on—in essence, creating a form of journalism that also represented service learning.

Fortunately, there was a great deal of leeway and academic freedom in the teaching method we chose to use in the newly created journalism sequence I encountered. Three of us, in the four full-time tenure journalism teachers in this sequence, were brand new that fall.  My hypothesis was that if the class was structured in ways that made the work of the class involving, project by project, that grades would seem less and less relevant, and service to the community and reaching audiences outside the classroom would conversely assume more and more relevant, and the importance of grades would in some sense “dissolve” in the process.  This essay is an attempt to share my experience with others as I have attempted to do what the National Council of Teachers of English in 1994 had endorsed as ideal practice.

Review of the Literature

My approach to this experiment comes from a number of decades of reading, training and practice in teaching writing and related forms of communication: audio, video and new media production. Along with my PhD work and teaching assistantship at the University of Texas-Austin, where we all essentially instructors of record with one or two sections of our own, ungraded personal expression journals were an essential part of the Freshman English Composition under rhetorician and educational philosopher James Kinneavy. [2]   Kinneavy’s fourth aim of discourse, “self expression,” was crucial to his theory of composition and communication (A Theory of Discourse, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1971).[3]   Up to this time, rhetoricians typically included only three aims of discourse: informative, persuasive and literary.  Kinneavy maintained that self-expression was a foundational aim of discourse and worked in tandem with the other three. That is why it had to be a foundational part of any composition class.

Later new ideas about listening to student voices and the power of “constructed knowledge” came from a classic in feminist literature (Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice and Mind, NY: Basic Books, 1986).[4]   I learned how deeply interesting student voices and experiences could be from Howard Gardiner’s approach to multiple-intelligence and the diverse routes that could be taken to the cognitive psychology of learning in Frames of Mind: Theories of Multiple Intelligence (NY: Basic Books, 1993).[5]   An earlier inspiration, stimulating my thinking about the power of writing that moves out of the classroom, came from Herbert Kohl in his seminal work on The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching (New York: Random House, 1969).[6]   I also learned, as so many others have, from Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (NY: A Continuum Book of the Seabury Press, 1970).  It became much clearer to me in reading Freire how liberating it could be to share and disburse power in a de-centered classroom.[7]

This did not happen over night, however.  It took a while to develop.  Still, as time went on these ideas began more and more to shape my own teaching practice.  The idea that I was an authority at a podium designated to impart specific procedural knowledge, with notes scribbled down by the students (when they deigned to take notes) began to change.  My writing and media composition classes became, as I developed them, much more of a student-teacher learning dyad with students providing the inspiration and ideas, once I had given them the general frame.  The rhetorical and narrative strategies of my courses, whether they were the English composition classes under Kinneavy or audio, film and video production classes I ran later on, took the same approach.  The aims and forms of the writing or media production, the word limits or time on the screen, could be set in advance.  The assignments might be structured as informational pieces, persuasive pieces, or pieces designed primarily to entertain.  But what the students decided to inform, persuade or entertain their audiences about, was left to them.

Two other fundamental books I discovered along the path of shaping my own teaching and practice were Parker J. Palmer’s The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life ( SF: Jossey-Bass, 1997)[8],  and the follow-up collection of essays, Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher’s Heart (SF: Jossey-Bass, 2002)[9], edited by Sam M. Intrator with introductory and concluding essays by Palmer.  From Parker Palmer and the others who told their stories in these books, I felt reinforced in my decision and courage not to grade student work, especially the early work that would occur as students started to develop their portfolios.  I could not completely do without grades of course.  We were working in a graded system.  I found that the minimum necessary to reassure students was a midterm “anchor” grades based on their work to date.  The half hour sessions I spent personally with students at the end of the term assigning that grade in a discussion that was more of a dialogue than a stamping of value or worth on their work,[10] and it will be discussed in the “execution of the experiment” section of this paper. I treated this moment, this step, as simply a marker or milestone in a process in which students transferred their work and expectations, and mine, to the professional goals of writing for and creating the web site.  Parker, Intrator and others had reinforced for me what was at the core of any teacher’s work: a full “heart” and a sense of conviction for the process would be most effective in my classroom whatever the dictates of the educational system outside the classroom.[11]

Other work informed my understanding of grading as an evaluation system, its history, its purpose, the usefulness of alternative approaches to those single-letter evaluations with their plusses and minuses at the end of term.  I began to understand better why these small marks on paper seemed on so many occasions (and always at grading times) to construct a battleground between teacher and student.  Here I found other sources to enlighten me.

One was Grading in the Post-Process Classroom: From Theory to Practice, edited by Libby Allison, Lizbeth Bryant, and Maureen Hourigan (“Crosscurrents: New Perspectives in Rhetoric and Composition” Series, Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1997)[12]. An example of the kind of personal testimony that informed this book came in the introduction. Here a teacher confessed to having burst into a screaming fit at a student in his office. “’Take the ‘A,’” he had said.  “Take an ‘A plus/plus/plus!,” scribbling it in large letters in his grade book. This scream came out of a teacher with a student in his office, who, to the teacher’s every constructive attempt to explain what was needed to improve the student’s understanding of the topic and a barely marginal ‘C,’ had kept responding: ‘but what do I need to do for an ‘A'?" Most of us may not have burst into this kind of overt demonstration of overt frustration, but we know the situation very well.

Most useful in understanding grades and grading was Peter Elbow’s "Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment," an essay published in College English in February 1993.[13] Grades, as Peter Elbow pointed out, were anything but scientific.  Elbow and others cite empirical studies that showing what different kinds of grades can be given for the same work, often a difference of more than full two grades! Elbow accurately took grades off their objective pedestal by explaining how they represent three different things: evaluating, ranking, and liking (the last is sometimes difficult for teachers to admit). How do you rank the work of a student who struggles through three drafts to construct a meaningful paper (and makes it good in the end) from one who writes fluently first draft but really doesn’t have much more to say. One essential part of the mission of grading is to standardize, to rank the apple above or below the orange.

Herbert Kohl, in a followup to his Open Classroom book [14],  explains exactly what is wrong with such standardized ranking, and standardized tests, on the high school and college level.  He worked with students to de-mythicize and disempower those kinds of tests while engaging and expanding the students’ own critical thinking.

We talked about the kinds of questions one could ask if one cared to screen out troublemakers, radicals, creative people, energetic people, angry people, etc. We talked about the desirable traits from the point of view of the system of a teacher, a welfare worker, a college student. Then we looked at sample tests and analyzed the kinds of questions being asked. We parodied the questions and played with them. The students tested each other with mock solemnity and learned how not to be afraid of failing or passing tests.[15]

In putting the spotlight on the problems with standardized tests, and discussing them with his students, Herbert Kohl had found a way to recognize each student and as an individual, and to retain his own heart and integrity as a teacher.  Re-reading Kohl at this point, years after I had discovered The Open Classroom, also reinforced my interest in pursuing my experiment in my basic reporting class.

In summing up the review of the literature in terms of my own quest to make the classroom experience more meaningful, both for myself and for my students, I realize now that m own approach goes back, in essence, to the dialogue theory of Martin Buber in I and Thou (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958).[16] This is a book that had greatly influenced me years before.  Buber explained the difference between an “I-Thou relationship” and an “I-It” relationship. Grades, by the very nature of how they are administered in school systems from the time students are very young, represent systemic I-It relationships. Whether it is the intention of teachers or not, and normally I believe that the intentions of teachers are quite principled in the application of grades—we all try to be fair and communicate to students what we value and what we expect from them through grades), their overuse in our present behaviorist everything-must-be-graded educational systems has had the effect, over time, of throttling and controlling the Life World of students to such an extent that they feel their own Life Worlds have been squeezed out of them in classroom settings.[17] I felt I had to design a class where the student’s personal voice and experience was respected, encouraged and honored from day one.

Methodology

Web Site as Central Focus

At the center of the methodology of this experience—and it should be underlined here that we are speaking here of two journalism/writing sections of 18 students each semester, not a mass lecture class--was a collaboratively produced class web site.  It came out of a two-part structure for the writing of the class. The first part was called “reporting in a personal context;” the second “reporting in a professional context.” The class culminated in two multimedia group PowerPoint presentations in which students used their research, writing, editing, and new media skills, including the insertion of audio and video links, to present information on a topic of information that was of interest and service to a particular community.  The students chose the topic and the community.  By the end of each semester, the web site had reported on dozens of topics of interest to dozens of communities, such as the one pictured below.

2320-freewebs

Service and Service-Learning as Central Purpose

The web page captured above from the class of Fall 2006 represented the first time I used a web site for published work from the class.  But the service and service learning aspects of the student reports was already evident.  That first semester the web site reported on: raids and deportations on the undocumented workers in North Carolina, “Opinion Piece: Raids and Deportations Are Wrong” (of special interest to the civil rights community for Hispanic and other undocumented workers in North Carolina); “How Do They Really Feel About Us” (a profile of a world traveler who found out that the world does not have the same picture of the U.S. as that of our own mass media; this was directed to the student community interested in international relations and study abroad); “ROTC Trains Future Military Leaders” (directed to students interested in exploring ROTC service); “Portrait of a Local Artist: Grifton, North Carolina” (portrait of a small-town artist making a living in a town with a growing art scene; a piece that was part of an effort to help put that town “on the map”); “Is There Life After College?” (career center ideas for students who were graduating); “Alum Brings “Gulu” Walk to Greenville,” (portraying a walk to raise money and awareness for the children of Northern Uganda); and “A New War on the Horizon?” (a report on the dangers then developing of the present generation of college students being involved in a yet another war, this time in North Korea.  In other parts of the web site the list goes on.[18]

This was the pattern. Each story on the class web site served a different community and different purpose through publishing a relevant series of facts and ideas to for that community. The reports often represented what has been referred to as “development journalism,” because they presented information that helps communities develop, rather than the “rents in the social fabric” (murders, fires, violence, economic disasters and wars) that so often take up the space of headline news in the major commercial media.

Though students seemed to have a strong impulse on their own to do stories of this kind, this was not entirely accidental, because at the beginning of the semester I would bring in Jessica Gagne-Cloutier, the representative of the Office of Service Learning and Volunteer Activities, and she would explain the principles behind service learning, helping the students decide what would or would not constitute this kind of learning.  But the use of the web site was the magic, the central point, the forum for all of the student skills to most effectively portray their topics on and to communities of interest--in writing, in graphic design, in sound and visual image.

Execution of the Experiment

Respecting the Personal Voice

The first part of the class, “reporting in a personal context,” begins with an exchange of letters.  The teacher introduces himself and the students introduce themselves. Then students have their first report: on themselves.  It is called “30 seconds of Me” and that is the time they have, on-camera (the reports are taped, a quick introduction to “broadcast time” as well). They move right after that to “500 Words on You”: a fifteen-minute exchange-interview with a classmate that produces two 500-word profiles.  When that is done the students build on the interview with a minimum of three independent sources on the person they profiled.  They must interview each of those sources for a 750-word “Multi-Source Profile” on their profile partner, and this is the first piece to go up on the web site.  Everyone’s profile must eventually be published, no matter how many drafts it has to go through to get there.  And none of this is graded except a “check” to make sure it is done. Occasionally, the English mechanics are such that the student is told that he or she needs to go to the Writing Center for basic English mechanics issues. This does not occur too often. “Bad writing” is rife in undergraduate education; illiteracy is not by this point in their student career. What is interesting about the writing that emerges in this part of the class, without a lot of copy editing, without grading, is that it is mostly good writing: exuberant, clear, as the personal voice of the student gains confidence. These profiles are often, in fact, some of the most interesting pieces of writing on the web site.

At the end of this period, the instructor spends approximately a half hour with each student going over their writing portfolio, discussing writing issues that have popped up, discussing life, and giving the student (in at least half the session) a sample of the thorough copy editing their writing might need, and which they will be receiving from student editors as well as the instructor as they prepare their pieces for the web.  Sometimes the student reads the piece out loud as they work on it together; sometimes the professor reads the work. It is generally covered with pencil and ideas for picking up more information, getting more relevant information, going quicker to the heart of the story or rearranging it. Though it is covered in pencil, the student knows exactly how and why those lines are on the page. This too is part of the dialogical process.

The Role of the Student Editors

The second part of the class is stimulated by showing previous examples of professional reporting as well as good examples of student reporting on the web site from previous semesters.  Here some of the more imaginative PowerPoint multimedia reports are shown.  Examples are used from professional reporters in Thom Leib’s All the News: Writing and Reporting for Convergent Media (Prentice Hall and Pearson Books, 2008)[19], with some of Leib’s ideas about how to provide effective journalism copy depending on the medium of presentation chosen.

Key to the approach in the second part of the class is a group of students from the beginning of the class who have volunteered to be web site student editors. I do not know why this is exactly, but out of a relative sea of what seems to be quiet indifference (in a class of 18 students) there emerges a group of 4 or 5 students who volunteer to copy edit and design the semester’s web site, for no extra credit, for no grade, but just for the challenge of it. They turn out to be students of prime leadership material. They meet with each other in the last fifteen minutes of every class and exchange and develop their skills as they prepare to edit sections of the site. They also produce together one of the Community PowerPoint presentations, and get to know each other better through that process. More and more, as the second part of the semester proceeds, they run the show, sending out emails to the student writers through the electronic Blackboard), revising the previous home page for the site, figuring out the quirks and ins and outs of the WordPress data management system for the site.[20] The instructor becomes, in this simulated newsroom environment, the publisher.

Results of the Experiment

2320-community

Results Indicated in Web Site Page Above

Though there are a number of goals incorporated into the published web site, one of the primary goals was service learning.  Each of the nine Community Convergent PowerPoint reports with links above (the reports themselves can be viewed on-line at http://www.comm2320.com/view/spring08/community-news-spring08/) conveys vital information to and about a community.  They are from the Basic Reporting class for Spring 2008 and they cover, in order of their appearance:

  • information on the University's new dental school
  • the environmental movement in the city of Greenville, NC, where the University is located
  • an investigative report on the University's parking problems (which actually precipitated changes in policy!); one of the students writing the report being hired by Parking and Transportation to help solve the problems
  • the non-profit “Rebuild It Together” organization that rebuilds and restores houses in underserved communities
  • an investigative report on limits placed on the women’s softball team field that the men’s team did not have (the Administration announced plans to improve the women’s field after this report was published on line)
  • a report on the inaccuracy of professional sports ratings (no such change occurred, but the students advocated forcefully for why it should)
  • an accurate picture of the academic life and schedule of varsity athletes at the University (this was designed for high school students who might be considering joining a team)
  • a report on a benefit for a student who died in a tragic motorcycle accident (promoting motorcycle riding safety and a foundation in his name to further that goal)
  • a report on how ropes training can be used t build leadership

What these reports show, individually and collectively, is a variety of ways in which community-based journalism can be meaningful.  With student initiative, planning and decision-making at every stage of the report, this kind of journalism represents some of the best kinds of service learning.[21]

Results of Experiment in Terms of Process

In summing up the results of this experiment in terms of the students’ own experience of writing and publishing for a potential “world wide audience,” I would like to use the students’ words rather than my own.  Here are five responses posted to an earlier version of this essay published on the web site itself (under “special contributions”).[22]

  1. Alexandra Duty, on December 7th, 2008 at 4:11 pm said:
    Dr. Timberg: I enjoyed reading this article on the standards or grading, or lack there of. I appreciate how you think outside the box and push professor’s limits to improve student’s writing skills. I agree that teachers could grade one paper completely different than another teacher. I only wish every professor saw it that way. I have to admit I was not enthused at the prospect of a student web-site at the beginning of the semester. But thanks to the editing team of the class, I did not have to physically post anything on the site. I also appreciate that you honestly try to improve on teaching and respect our opinions of the class. This is refreshing news to a student and I respect the path you are making for grading.

  2. Carlton Purvis, on December 7th, 2008 at 11:46 pm said:
    I think this new approach/perspective may be slow to catch on but when it does I think the practicality of it will spread pretty quickly. It’s a better way of doing things and I think when you’re teaching, you should definitely keep in mind that you are trying to prepare the students for a real world environment where grades are given every task or assignment to let you know how you’re doing ––you either get a raise at the end of the year or you don’t. It’s up to you to put in work.

  3. Alison LeBlanc, on December 9th, 2008 at 2:16 am said:
    This piece did a superb job of explaining how your Comm 2320 class functions. I felt like I could relate to this article because I was that student that saw the prior students’ work on the website, and it kept me interested. At first I was a little skeptical about the grading method, but realized that it wasn’t so bad. I have another Communications professor who has the same grading method and I think it is extremely effective. I felt that the way the mid term review meetings were set up was an awesome way of speaking with the student, and telling them where they stand in the class. This way, one knows to get their act together, or they are doing something right. I enjoyed reading this piece, and felt that every entry in the essay did the job of explaining how you feel about this grading method.

  4. Chris Patterson, on December 10th, 2008 at 4:37 pm said:
    I believe that this style of teaching should be more adopted throughout ECU. The concept of having a teacher sit down and talk with a student about what grade they believe they should get after going over what they have written is ingenious. After reading this piece I was thoroughly enlightened because the methods used are a nice breath of fresh air. For my entire collegiate career I have been told “You received an A or an B or an C” and so on. For so long I was graded on being right or wrong and it is pretty awesome that I had an opportunity to be graded this way. Not by right or wrong but by how the work was done and by the discussion of work during the mid term. It is now a shame that I have to go back again to the right and wrong theory of grading when this hybrid style of teaching of grading was VERY effective for me. Not only was it effective but it was also more motivating to me as a student.

  5. Aaron Chapman, on December 11th, 2008 at 11:06 am said:
    I must admit that when i was told of this type of grading, I was very skeptical and was wondering “What is he talking about?’ However, I think many students are nervous about the grading system because they are not aware or accustomed to it. As you said in the article “it is quite simple” and indeed it is. But because it’s so simple and so easy, it catches us by surprise. We are so use to the same grading system, of standarized test, organized papers, etc., when someone tries to change it up on us we freeze up. However, I think that this grading system is not only effective, yet practical. As previously stated, this class did a great job as preparing for real world experiences and jobs.  It pushes creativity and allows us to write how we want to or how we perceive the way an article should go. Many teachers give us a paper with so many rules and regulations it’s hard to be ourselves, but in this class our individuality is requested.

Conclusion

Allowing Communications 2230 Basic Reporting to move from the personal to the professional allowed both the students and myself to get to know each other and develop a sense of integrity and trust.  This is something I am convinced we could not have done, or done only in a much limited fashion, had I employed a traditional grading system.  In personal or journal writing, there is often little separation in the student’s mind between grading the form of expression and grading the person himself.  It is difficult to develop a strong, quirky or individual voice when it is being graded by a stranger, no matter how qualified, professionally, or in terms of procedural knowledge, that stranger might be.  When we moved to the more professional “simulated newsroom,” after I had gotten to know students without grade intercession, with the teacher-student class warfare that often attends grades at least temporarily put to the side, we moved there together, after a personal session and discussion of what the “grade” represented in terms of their work for the term.  And we now had a common goal.  It was not an us-against-them proposition in the evaluation of their work.  It was about what would work best on the screen: in their opinion, in my opinion, in the opinion of some of the gifted student editors, in the opinion of potential unknown readers “out there” on the “world wide web.   What we all wanted was something that would have an effect in the outside world, something we could all be proud of.

Acknowledgments

This paper would not have been possible without the constant encouragement, ideas and assistance of Judith Levin, a prize-winning teacher who taught her last class (perhaps) at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in Spring 2008.

The paper would also not have been possible without the generosity, technical skill and imagination of Steven Maguire.  Steve, already a professional web designer and communicator when he graduated from the School of Communication in Spring 2008, was a nontraditional learner a self-starter who designed the WordPress data management web site for the class.  He hosted the site on his own professional server, and in a single blitzkrieg session of donated time, Steve expertly trained each semester a new generation of student editors for the site.

But also making this experiment possible was the faith and trust, copy editing skills and flexibility of the students of COMM 2320 themselves, the active subject of this experiment and who provide their own commentary in the Results section of this essay.

And, finally, I am indebted to the Writing Intensive Institute of Spring 2008 under Writing Institute Director Jim Kirkland.  The Institute provided the motivation and opportunity to put this account to paper.  Because of the Institute and the process of dialogue it encourages, I feel less isolated, less overwhelmed, less vulnerable. I have a better understanding what I am doing in the classroom and why. It is sometimes difficult to talk to colleagues about alternative approaches to teaching and especially the sensitive area of evaluation and grading.  Though I felt what I was doing was intuitively right and getting more and more feedback to that effect from the students themselves, without participating in the five sessions in which we shared and discussed our discoveries in teaching, without the excitement and rapport that came out of our exchange of ideas, I doubt I would have been able to articulate, for myself and others, what I was doing in the classroom. The Institute empowered us all in providing “a room of our own” to document and expand our efforts, to share our struggles and challenges as teachers, and to celebrate, each in his or her own way, our convictions and courage to teach.

 


 

Endnotes

1. Quoted in Grading in the Post-Process Classroom: From Theory to Practice, ed. by Libby Allison, Lizbeth Bryant, and Maureen Hourigan in the “Crosscurrents: New Perspectives in Rhetoric and Composition” Series, Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1997, p. 1.

2. I taught in the Freshman Composition Program at the University of Texas 1976-79 when James Kinneavy was reshaping the Freshman Composition program there.

3. James L. Kinneavy, A Theory of Discourse, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1971.  See my comments in “JLK Students Speak,” Discourse Studies in Honor of James L. Kinneavy, Rosalind J. Gabin, ed, Scripta Humanistica 51, Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1995, pp. xxi-xxiii.

4. Mary Fields Belenky, et al., Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice and Mind, Basic Books, 1986.

5. Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: Theories of Multiple Intelligence, Basic Books, 1993.  See also Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam Books, 1997.

6. Herbert Kohl, The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching, New York: Random House, 1969, from on-line web publication: http://vidyaonline.org/arvindgupta/openclassroom.pdf

7. Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970.

8. Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

9. Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher’s Heart,  ed.  by Sam M. Intrator with introductory and concluding essays by Parker J . Palmer, SF: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

10. See reference to the dialogue theory of Martin Buber in the endnote below.

11. As is clear from this essay, those dictates were far too much predicated on what Freiere had called the “banking system” of education in which grades and credits piled up in what became somewhat mechanical and limiting ways.  In this system some students (and teachers) could immediately recognize “good” (that is “A”) students.  Other students fell into thinking of themselves, and thus becoming, primarily “B”  students.  And others were quite content to get the C’s (hopefully not D’s) and to slide by, other priorities (social, having fun, maintaining sometimes 40-hour work weeks) could thus be shared with their role as students, with academics never assuming too much importance. Not grading was a way of upsetting this comfortable, but also restrictive pattern.  It might be suspected or resisted at first, but for many stepping outside of grade-by-grade evaluations that reconfirmed their own preconceived notions of themselves as students, as the student comments in the “results” section of this essay indicate, proved ultimately liberating.

12. Libby Allison, Lizbeth Bryant, and Maureen Hourigan, eds., Grading in the Post-Process Classroom: From Theory to Practice, in the “Crosscurrents: New Perspectives in Rhetoric and Composition” Series, Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1997.

13. Peter Elbow, , "Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment." College English 55.2, February 1993: 187-206.

14. Herbert Kohl, The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching, New York: Random House, from the on-line web publication: http://vidyaonline.org/arvindgupta/openclassroom.pdf

15. Herbert Kohl, The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching, New York: Random House, from the on-line web publication: http://vidyaonline.org/arvindgupta/openclassroom.pdf

16. Martin Buber, I and Thou, 2nd ed, transl. by Ronald Gregor Smith, with a Postscript by the author, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958.

17. The term and concept of the “Life World,” which represents a certain kind of knowledge, and its opposition to the “Knowledge of Control,” comes from Jurgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 2: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, Beacon Press, 1985.

18. A complete list of stories over four semesters and index to them is being prepared by one of the editors of the Spring 2009 version of the class for a version of this article to be submitted for publication. 

19. Thom Leib, All the News: Writing and Reporting for Convergent Media, Prentice Hall and Pearson Books, 2008.

20. The site was designed by a professional web designer, Steve Maguire, who was finishing his undergraduate education in the School of Communication’s media production sequence (see the Acknowlegements section at the end of this essay).

21. To emphasize that this was collaborative project, not just work the students were doing for an audience on the world wide web, I often put some of my own work up on the site. See: http://www.comm2320.com/view/spring08/profs-pieces/

22. These comments were the five that were posted at the time this article was completed on Dec 14, 2008. They can be found, with perhaps more that have been added, at <http://www.comm2320.com/view/fall-2008/special-contributions/>.