Tao of Marking: Caring For Students through Unmarking Your Courses

Photo by David Emrich on Unsplash

The Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at Vancouver Island University is putting on a series of activities this year about marking and grading. We are asking faculty to examine their marking and grading practices, and consider how best to align these processes with perspectives and techniques that make caring for student learning a sustainable activity. Join us for one or both of the following sessions.

The Tao of Marking: Finding Joy by “De-Complicating” Grades and Feedback

We care deeply about our students—that’s why we teach. But caring for our students can also lead us to adopt practices that are non-sustainable and maybe even joyless, such as long weekends bent over papers, grading sessions that extend into the holidays, or hours crunching numbers to produce final course marks. If these behaviours are the result of our caring, we have to begin questioning “why?” Why has it been possible for our caring to displace our pleasure and satisfaction as educators. Where did the fun go, and what can we do to get it back?

There might be a Way. The ancient Chinese called it the TAO, or the path toward naturalness, simplicity and harmony. it’s unlikely that we will bloom into full-fledged Daoists overnight, there’s still a lot we, as teachers, can adapt from this philosophy. Daoism is especially relevant to the search for balance and well-being—that of ourselves as well as that of our students—when it comes to marking student work.

Join for an interactive session that may show the Way to “Take Back the Joy” of being a teacher.

Session dates (Register through https://inviu.viu.ca) : Nanaimo: Wednesday, September 26 (3:30 – 5:00 pm) |  Cowichan: Friday, September 28 (8:30 – 10:00 am) | Nanaimo: Thursday, October 4 (8:30 – 10:00 am)


The UnMarking Studio: Balancing Student Needs with Faculty Realities

How much marking is optimal? How many assignments are best for student learning? Could we mark and grade less yet still be respectable? Or more surprising yet: Could less marking and fewer grades be causally related to more student learning? These are just a few of the inquiries you are invited to explore with your VIU colleagues in a “studio” format.

An UnMarking Studio is a meeting of 10-12 faculty in a room where everyone commits to learning and sharing their insights about marking and grading. Sessions are 90 minutes long. During the session participants will identify challenges related to marking and grading, pose questions to deepen collective understanding, and offer solutions for all to draw from.

Session dates (Register through https://inviu.viu.ca)Nanaimo: Thursday, October 11 (2:00 – 3:30 pm): Nanaimo: Monday, October 22 (2:00 – 3:30 pm) | Nanaimo: Wednesday, October 31 (12:30 – 2:00 pm)