Ungrading the Unessay Workshop


The alternative assessment movement and ongoing concerns with generative AI are disrupting tendencies in higher education to rely on conventional assessment methods within our respective disciplines. Since course design is iterative, educators often change one component each term. With the movement to adopt alternative forms of assessment and ungrading in particular, an instructor might keep the same assignment structure but implement grade-free zones, contract grading, or student assessments. To better meet the needs of diverse learners and integrate the UDL framework, we propose accompanying alternative grading strategies with alternative forms of assessment like the unessay. In this interactive workshop seminar, a sociology professor and an educational development director will present how they aligned their specific ungrading strategies with the unessay to empower students to take ownership of their education and scholarly output. We will begin by sharing the educational reasoning behind ungrading with the unessay in social science and humanities courses–utilizing examples of completed student work from each–and then lead participants in a course redesign workshop. Working within a personal ungrading development journal powered by H5P, participants will work through how best to empower students to meet learning outcomes with paired assessment and evaluation strategies.


Ungrading Development Journal




Isaiah F. A. Cohen: isaiah.cohen@usd.edu

Christopher Adamson: cadamson@smumn.edu

Sample Unessay Assignments

Explore the digital unessay in different classes across multiple disciplines (sociology, criminal justice, literature, and digital humanities) in the tapestry below. All of these assignments are linked by the following definition of the Unessay: a non-traditional assessment that meets learning outcomes by maximizing student choice and agency.

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