June 26-28, 2024
Long Beach, CA

Equitable Grading Strategies for Online Teaching


Presented by:

  • Shawn Valcarcel, Instructional Designer, California Virtual Campus
  • Bri Brown, English Faculty, DE Coordinator, Cuyamaca College
  • Suzanne Wakim, DE, SLO, OER Coordinator; Biology Faculty, Butte Community College

Speaker Bios:

  • Shawn holds a Master of Music degree from Cal Baptist University, a B.A. in Music from UC Riverside, and is finishing a Ph.D. in Education at Capella University. Since 2007, he has taught Music in the CCC system. Before joining CVC-OEI, Shawn worked as an Instructional Designer for @ONE and Mt. San Jacinto College. Additionally, he is an active working musician. Shawn most enjoys spending time with his wife and son, all avid baseball fans. Let’s go Mets!
  • Bri currently serves as Cuyamaca’s Distance Education coordinator and English faculty. She received a BA in English at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, an MA in English from SDSU, and a doctorate degree in Community College Leadership at SDSU. Her dissertation research examined the equity implications of contract grading in community college composition classrooms. Since earning the doctorate, she has been working on publishing and speaking about the benefits of alternative grading systems and also taking on more equity and anti-racism projects at Cuyamaca, including serving as a volunteer EEO representative on hiring committees and co-leading the English department’s anti-racism workgroup. She started teaching online in 2015 and quickly enrolled in just about every @ONE course offered. After completing the courses, she was brought on to serve as an @ONE facilitator, course designer, and presenter. She was recently asked to co-design and co-facilitate the new Equitable Grading Strategies course. She strongly believes that by equitizing grading practices, faculty can contribute to dismantling oppressive educational structures.
  • Suzanne is Coordinator for Distance Education and Student Learning Outcomes at Butte Community College. She is also a biology instructor who has designed and developed over a dozen biology courses in multiple modalities for multiple institutions. She is a Course Facilitator for @ONE and for Creative Commons and a Project Facilitator for the ASCCC OER Initiative. She has created online educational resources for Carnegie Mellon, OpenStax, Nature, Discovery Education, and co-authored the most adopted Biology textbook in LibreTexts. She conducts nationwide trainings on topics including Universal Design for Learning, Adaptable Course and Assessment Design, Open Pedagogy, and Online Course Design.

Session Info:

What do grades really measure? Is there a more accurate indicator of our students’ skills and abilities? The traditional grading system used in higher education in the U.S. is often more a measure of privilege or personality than of learning. It also creates a competitive, chilly course climate that can undermine efforts to build community with students and positions instructors as gatekeepers, as opposed to partners.

In this session, we will introduce alternative strategies for indicating student learning that are more equitable, more accurate, and more effectively promote student agency and motivation. We will also discuss some simple changes instructors can make to their syllabus policies and course design that can increase grading equity and student engagement with the learning process. Please bring your syllabus to use in an interactive activity.

Session Outcomes:

  • Investigate traditional grading as a source of power that privileges some students and leaves others out.
  • Reflect on your current grading practices and grading strategies that can make your course more equitable.
  • Further your knowledge of this topic by registering for the new 4-week online course from CVC.

Session Resources:


View the Recorded Session

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