I think my default grading system was borne out of the fear and insecurity of being a new teacher and until recently I have left that default unchecked. I’ve always accessed grades critically, or more to my point in this reflection, negatively. That is to say that I imagined each project grade starting at 100%. I diligently applied my rubric as a means to justify points that I subtracted from the initial score of 100. Having been acutely aware of grades in my graduate course I thought it proper to give the benefit of the doubt to the student and to be able to justify anything that would take away points from their A or B. I now think my approach was absolutely backward. I realized that it made me look for where I could take points away from the student, and created comments and feedback that were more negative and less uplifting than they should have been. If, conversely, I began at zero and focused on allocating points for where students succeeded, then my attention, comments and energy would be directed in a purely positive direction. The grade would then be more about earning points than it is about taking points away. In fact, it makes perfect sense to start at zero because students are in the business of learning and achieving, not forgetting and muddling.
I think that my default grading philosophy actually resulted in higher grades and less happy/interested students.