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A Grading System for Psycology
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Subb Offline
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A Grading System for Psycology

So, I did a thing for Psycology, and I thought you guys might find it interesing. It's something I came across a while back, with a few ideas embellished from me:

It’s very clear that operant conditioning would be very useful in classrooms. Actually, I want to talk about a very specific form of operant conditioning, called “Gamification.” This is where you use the mechanics of video games to enrich real life, such as school. one practical way to do this (and the one we will be focusing on) is to change the grading system into a point based system. Let’s say, you need 20,000 points to ace the class, each correct answer on a homework assignment is worth 2 points (assuming there’s 15-20 questions), and each correct answer on a test is worth 5 points. This way, students are getting rewarded to continue, rather than punished for being behind.

This also provides an opportunity to make a great incentive system. So, 20,000 points in five classes would mean that 100,000 points would be as many points you can earn. So, why not divide the point numbers into levels, and each level would have certain perks? For example, anyone with 60,000 points or higher is on Level 3, and anyone who is on Level 3 or higher gets to go on a special field trip at the end of the year? This way, not only are people rewarded with points to succeed, but they are also rewarded with the perks.

The punishment system could also be tied to this point system. If someone misbehaves, an amount of points are deducted, based on the severity of their misbehavior. For example, -5 point for interrupting, and -50 points each for fighting. This way, not only are they losing perks and their overall grade is dropping, but they wouldn’t want to lose the points they’re worked for. Five points is an entire test question, and fifty points is equal to several homework assignments. These would just vanish when they would be bad, their hard work would be moot. This would need some testing in an actual school, but I think it would be much more effective than a detention system.

Finally, what about a communal incentive system for the classroom? Let’s say that for every 30,000 points earned by the classroom as a whole, every student would get 10 additional points at the end of the year. Not only would this reward students with one final boost, it would also reward students for collaborating. That one kid is a few thousand points behind everyone else? Well, why not help him? It’ll boost your own grade.

The main appeal of this system over our traditional one is that it takes away most punishments and replaces them with rewards. One of the main complaints of the traditional grading system is that it punishes students who don’t do well. I’m not saying that someone shouldn’t receive punishment for slacking, but that someone shouldn’t be punished if they are trying their best, but don’t understand the material. The final benefit I want to say is that it allows students to set their own goals. Can’t reach 20,000? Then aim for 17,000. And those 17,000 points feel better than a C. And that’s because a C says “You could’ve done a lot better.” but 17,000 points says “You earned this. Nice job.”

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01-05-2014 05:27 PM
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Ky Offline
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A Grading System for Psycology

Still an arbitrary unit of measure, but one that more obviously reflects the meritocratic nature of our society. Very well thought out.

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01-05-2014 05:30 PM
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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

It definitely sounds better than the grading system we have right now, though I agree with DoA: still arbitrary.

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01-05-2014 06:26 PM
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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

Yeah, it's still arbritrary, but it's an exellent first step in the right direction. Not only is the system a lot better than the one we have now, it introduces the idea of making school about the student. Instead of "Live up to these high standards because we say so and you'll be punished if you don't." it's "Hey, try do as well you can. We'll be sure to reward you along the way if you put effort into it." We need to start shifting that focus, and this is an easy and inexpensive way to start that shift.

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01-05-2014 06:47 PM
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A Grading System for Psycology

Yeah, I agree. Different systems can have different psychological effects. Perhaps instead of the "fear" system which most school's grading systems use, instead, it could be tailored towards the student, and much better incentive at the end.

I just hope that isn't blindly used as an excuse as a way to prevent real change to the learning environment, but yes, indeed it is a step in the right direction.

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01-05-2014 06:54 PM
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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  So, I did a thing for Psycology, and I thought you guys might find it interesing. It's something I came across a while back, with a few ideas embellished from me:

Thanks for sharing. This for is a class you're taking?

Overall, it sounds like you're basing this on BF Skinner's ideas. The issue here is, Skinner's approach was to ignore the human mind, and treat people like mindless animals, focusing only on their behavior, not their thoughts, choices, and personalities.

(I think Gamification is worth discussing, but first a little background on Skinner and operant conditioning.)

Excerpts from Wikipedia:

"Skinner invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box.[7] He was a firm believer of the idea that human free will was actually an illusion and any human action was the result of the consequences of that same action."

[Image: 300px-Skinner_box_scheme_01.png]

Regarding education:

In Skinner’s view, education has two major purposes: (1) to teach repertoires of both verbal and nonverbal behavior; and (2) to encourage students to display an interest in instruction. He endeavored to bring students’ behavior under the control of the environment by reinforcing it only when particular stimuli were present. Because he believed that human behavior could be affected by small consequences, something as simple as “the opportunity to move forward after completing one stage of an activity” could prove reinforcing (Skinner, 1961, p. 380). Skinner favored active learning in the sense that students were not merely passive recipients of information doled out by teachers. He was convinced that a student had to take action; “to acquire behavior, the student must engage in behavior” (Skinner, 1961, p. 389).

In short, his focus is on behavior, and that school of thought is known as behaviorism. It is worth looking at and thinking about behavior, and learning repertoires of behavior, but I think it's critical to also think about minds and actions people take, and why, not just that they react to stimuli and "display an interest in instruction."

Skinner's overall thinking goes to some very dark places if you think about it.

Selected BF Skinner quotes:

"We must delegate control of the population as a whole to specialists—to police, priests, teachers, therapies, and so on, with their specialized reinforcers and their codified contingencies"

"It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled"

Huh Jawdrop No Uhoh Tripleevil Waaah

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  It’s very clear that operant conditioning would be very useful in classrooms. Actually, I want to talk about a very specific form of operant conditioning, called “Gamification.” This is where you use the mechanics of video games to enrich real life, such as school.

I'd look at Gamification from a broader lens than just operant conditioning. All kinds of game dynamics (and story dynamics) can be relevant to life, far beyond operant conditioning.

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  one practical way to do this (and the one we will be focusing on) is to change the grading system into a point based system. Let’s say, you need 20,000 points to ace the class, each correct answer on a homework assignment is worth 2 points (assuming there’s 15-20 questions), and each correct answer on a test is worth 5 points. This way, students are getting rewarded to continue, rather than punished for being behind.

Gamification based on overall points might have some merit, but I'd be careful about suggesting operant conditioning as a solution for school.

It's also worth noting the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. If people start doing things just for the external reward, they may lose their inner motivation to do activities for their own sake. So, that's something to watch out for.

On the plus side, the idea of providing a big pool of activities and points, and allowing people to met the requirements in more than one way, holds a lot of potential. Hypothetically, such a system would allow for flexibility and learner choice in how they spend their time.

One reference to check out for more on gamifying school is a program called Just Press Play developed for college students at Rochester Institute of Technology. Check out this G+ thread for a video interview with the creator, and follow-up discussion (I'm Brendan there):

https://plus.google.com/1033165551961358...aYYsKNgvAo

Here are some slides that describe the program (there's also an online profile):

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A key part of Just Press Play is that it doesn't just track a big pool of points, but divides them into categories: "Create. Learn. Explore. Socialize." Some activities lead to points in multiple categories at once.

Another example of applying game dynamics to life is Jane McGonigal's system SuperBetter, which is free to sign up for. The video there explains some of how it works and Jane's story that led to her creating it.

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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  This also provides an opportunity to make a great incentive system. So, 20,000 points in five classes would mean that 100,000 points would be as many points you can earn. So, why not divide the point numbers into levels, and each level would have certain perks? For example, anyone with 60,000 points or higher is on Level 3, and anyone who is on Level 3 or higher gets to go on a special field trip at the end of the year? This way, not only are people rewarded with points to succeed, but they are also rewarded with the perks.

Just like frequent flyer mile programs... like United's MileagePlus levels? Smile

Actually, if you could become a teacher if you got enough points, or become an administrator who could write the rules, maybe that'd make sense. Unless the architects of the point system made the rules so nobody could ever make it out...

That raises a question, though: what if someone disagrees with the points, or wants to do things that the points don't cover?

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  The punishment system could also be tied to this point system. If someone misbehaves, an amount of points are deducted, based on the severity of their misbehavior. For example, -5 point for interrupting, and -50 points each for fighting. This way, not only are they losing perks and their overall grade is dropping, but they wouldn’t want to lose the points they’re worked for. Five points is an entire test question, and fifty points is equal to several homework assignments. These would just vanish when they would be bad, their hard work would be moot. This would need some testing in an actual school, but I think it would be much more effective than a detention system.

So, there'd still be punishment. I can imagine some people subverting the system and trying to get the most negative points. Razz

I think it might be better to help people understand why certain types of behavior is good or bad, and learn a sense of ethics and decision-making and discerning judgment... I'm not sure how points alone would lead to that outcome.

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  Finally, what about a communal incentive system for the classroom? Let’s say that for every 30,000 points earned by the classroom as a whole, every student would get 10 additional points at the end of the year. Not only would this reward students with one final boost, it would also reward students for collaborating. That one kid is a few thousand points behind everyone else? Well, why not help him? It’ll boost your own grade.

Collaboration is good, but again I'm not so comfortable with focusing so much on points for every activity, as the core way people evaluate their actions.

(As an exercise, consider what this would look like if instead of points, you did the same thing with money. One point = 1 cent. I'd have to think about how that would work.)

(01-05-2014 05:27 PM)SubCulture Wrote:  The main appeal of this system over our traditional one is that it takes away most punishments and replaces them with rewards. One of the main complaints of the traditional grading system is that it punishes students who don’t do well. I’m not saying that someone shouldn’t receive punishment for slacking, but that someone shouldn’t be punished if they are trying their best, but don’t understand the material. The final benefit I want to say is that it allows students to set their own goals. Can’t reach 20,000? Then aim for 17,000. And those 17,000 points feel better than a C. And that’s because a C says “You could’ve done a lot better.” but 17,000 points says “You earned this. Nice job.”

I think there are better rewards than just points. Learning to appreciate small wins or epic accomplishments based on what they are. Another thought is, "Trying one's best" can mean all kinds of things... people can say "I'm doing my best" but not even trying, or not knowing what they're capable of.

Overall, I'd say, drill down to the underlying goals, then think about what methods might work to accomplish them. If you want flexible expectations, or ways for people to opt out of doing things, there are more than one way to do it, for example.

What do you think of all that? (I know, massive wall of content... but there's a lot to think about when it comes to architecting systems like school or a game.)

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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

Did you, by any chance at all whatsoever, get this idea from Extra Credits?

Hello, traveler.

This is an ancient account I have not used in a long time. My views have changed much in the intervening months and years.

Nonetheless, I refuse to clean it up. Pretending that I've held my current views since the beginning of time is what we in the industry call a lie. Asking people to do so contributes to moralistic self-loathing. "See, those people have nothing damning! I do! I'm truly vile!"

Because you can never be a good person with a single blemish on the moral record, I thought that simply entertaining some thoughts made me irredeemable. Though I don't care for his writing style, William Faulkner presents a good counterexample. He went from being a typical Southern racist to supporting the civil rights movement. These days we'd yell at him for that, probably.

People are allowed to change their views.

Nevertheless, this period of my life has informed some of how I am today. In good ways and bad ways. To purge it would be to do a disservice to history. Perhaps it will not make anyone sympathetic, but it may help someone understand.

If, after reading all this, you still decide to use the post above as evidence that I am evil today, ask yourself if you have never disagreed with the moral code you now follow. In all likelihood you did, at some point. If some questions are verboten, and the answer is "how dare you ask that," don't expect your ideological opponents to ever change their minds.
01-05-2014 11:42 PM
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Post: #9
A Grading System for Psycology

I dislike any kinds of grading system. But yours makes more sense then A B D C F

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01-06-2014 04:15 AM
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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

(01-05-2014 11:42 PM)planetfall666 Wrote:  Did you, by any chance at all whatsoever, get this idea from Extra Credits?

Wow, Extra Credits has some very good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Another thing to check out starting later this month is Kevin Werbach's Gamification course from U Penn:

https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification

I went through part of the course last time it was offered, and it's worth checking out if you're interested in the topic. (You can even get a certificate if you complete the class... which could hypothetically be translated into points in some kind of actual gamification scheme.)

Actually, on that note, Degreed already has a system where you can enter traditional courses, Coursera/etc. courses, videos you watch, articles you read, and events you go to, and they compute points based on it.

Check it out. What they're missing, so far, includes tracking participation in online conversations, as well as writing one does. But the idea is to jailbreak the traditional degree.

(01-06-2014 04:15 AM)154bmag Wrote:  I dislike any kinds of grading system. But yours makes more sense then A B D C F

Absolutely. That A-F thing needs to go. And the only way to make that happen, aside from unschooling, is going to be to develop and propose alternatives.

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RE: A Grading System for Psycology

(01-05-2014 11:42 PM)planetfall666 Wrote:  Did you, by any chance at all whatsoever, get this idea from Extra Credits?

Yeah. All credit goes to them. I just put in a few specifics, and the punishment system. I wasn't able to find a way to plug them in, which I kind of regret.

Anyway, a bit more context. The assignment was to answer four questions, each at least a paragraph's length. This is my answer to the first question, and I got carried away. The question asked how I can apply classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning to education. I zerod in on operant conditioning.

Also, it would be great to incorporate other things into this system, like non arbitrarily encouraging collaboration and instilling ethics. How we would do that, I don't know.

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(This post was last modified: 01-06-2014 04:12 PM by Subb.)
01-06-2014 04:08 PM
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