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A Community of Practice for Higher Ed Faculty Engaging in Alternative Grading Policies and Practices.

Alternative Grading for Higher Education Instructors​

Are you interested in alternative grading practices such as Standards-Based, Specifications, Mastery, or Ungrading? Are you looking for a community of math instructors engaged in similar practices? If so, this course is for you.

This professional development course will lead you through a course redesign from the perspective of learning-based grading. Learning-based grading is an overarching term for an alternative grading philosophy emphasizing learning over compliance in grading practices.

During this course, participants will learn a variety of learning-based grading components, including how to break course content into assessable learning targets, options for allowing students to demonstrate learning, and how the productive struggle and the opportunity for revision of student work supports learning and reduces inequity. The program is structured around course redesign within a learning-based grading framework.

Why Redesign?

Redesigning courses through grading practices is a key entry point for instructional change as grading practices sit at the unique intersection of instructor and student need.

From a teaching and learning perspective, the validity and use of grades in the American Higher Educational System have been brought into question for the better part of the last three decades. Alternative grading practices have shown success in validating grades and presenting fairer measures of student learning.

Research also suggests that switching to an alternative grading practice reduces inequity in classes. Any course redesign effort, especially focused on grading practices, benefits from a structured implementation cycle.


The program operates in a facilitated asynchronous style spanning 8 weeks with reminders, due dates, and feedback throughout. No date closes or prevents you from interacting with the content, meaning you can work at your own pace. The course is structured as a cohort to allow you to engage with peers, but collaboration is not mandatory. You will have access to live office hours via Zoom for the duration of the course.

Projects & Impact


In this six-module course, you will learn to:

  • Evaluate the key elements of learning-based grading systems and their advantages over traditional grading systems.
  • Create or revise assessable learning targets for learning-based grading in your course.
  • Develop a learning-based grading plan for your course.
  • Use learning-based grading to promote learning and growth with students and other stakeholders.


In this module, participants will review the key literature around the philosophy of learning-based grading and then reflect upon those ideas as they relate to their own course. By using collective discussions, participants should be able to begin to ask the deep questions about what learning is and looks like for their course; as well as, focusing on the larger components of a single course they teach.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Define the core principles of what learning-based grading means.
  • Describe why traditional grading is iniquitous or needs to be changed.
  • Evaluate the fundamental building blocks of my course to redesign it.

In this module, participants will review their learning objectives, or targets, for the purposes of learning-based grading in their course. Doing this will require the review of some key ideas around measuring and appropriately pairing of language to teacher and student. Participants will have the opportunity to also gain expert feedback on some of their revised learning targets to fit the “Goldilocks” zone of a target.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Identify appropriately written, assessable, and student facing learning objectives.
  • Revise a learning objective to be appropriately written, assessable, and student facing.

In this module, participants will examine how to incorporate the philosophy of learning-based grading, into the components of their course and grading system. By reviewing and reflecting on readings and guided discussions, participants will develop their first plans and choices for making the big step into the learning-based grading world.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Use a rubric to evaluate for learning level of a student.
  • Convert the mastery of learning standards into a final grade.
  • Evaluate when and how to quantify the comprehension of learning standards.
  • Evaluate the appropriate level of complexity to a learning-based grading architecture.

In this module, participants will begin the process of aligning their targets to their assessments and assignments. By reviewing the ideas of evaluation, measurable learning, and reassessment, participants will have an opportunity to follow a guided discussion around practice for their classrooms.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate appropriate assessments/assignments that demonstrate mastery of learning standards.
  • Design or redesign assessments/assignments that align and measure mastery of learning standards.

In this module, participants will grapple with the elusive practice of giving learning-based feedback. Through guided discussion and facilitated examples, participants will try giving and sharing feedback to target around learning and reassessment for their classes.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Give learning-based feedback on assignments/assessments.
  • Show students how to use feedback in their learning.
  • Build feedback/reassessment time into my courses.

In this final module, participants will set up their plans for redesign. By reviewing what they’ve learned and asking some of the next best goal setting questions, participants will establish their game-plan to review and finish redesigning their course for learning-based grading. Focusing on an inventory of what they have and what their goals are, participants will make their own or shared plans as needed in this module.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Communicate the grading practices of my course with all students and stakeholders.
  • Evaluate a student’s progress in learning content from the mastery of learning standards.
  • Communicate a student’s progress in learning content from the mastery of learning standards.

Academic Calendar Year 2022 to 2023

Start Date
Completion Date
Cohort 01Wednesday, August 17, 2022Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Cohort 02Wednesday, October 19, 2022Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Cohort 03Wednesday, January 18, 2023Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Cohort 04Wednesday, March 29, 2023Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Cohort 05Wednesday, June 14, 2023Wednesday, August 09, 2023


Individual Registration with PayPal / Credit Card

Complete the registration form below for Individual Registration with PayPal or Credit Card. Please contact us to register multiple people or request an invoice.

$ 0.00

Frequently Asked Questions

A facilitated, asynchronous course is one which does not meet at a required, fixed time. All the content, activities, and assignments can be done when you have time. The facilitation refers to the time frame of the course, or how long we allow each module and ultimately the course, to open. The pace we encourage is one week per module, for a total of 6 weeks for the course.

The course content is all located in the Learning Management System, Canvas. After you register and pay for the course you will have a College Bridge Canvas account created for you and be enrolled in your cohort of the course. The enrollment information for Canvas and access to the course will be provided two business days prior to the course’s start date.

For any technical questions or assistance with Canvas and your account, please contact

At your own pace. The content is laid out in a sequence from the Welcome, to modules 01-06, to, finally, the implementation and next steps. You may wish to go through each module in order as it appears, although you could start at the parts you will have to “submit” and work backwards. The information, videos, and resources provided are all for you to gain the strongest footing possible to complete the tasks of the course and better develop your learning-based grading system in your class. We do request that the “Welcome Module” be completed before any other module, as this helps us get to know you and outline more of the process.

That depends. We estimate roughly 5 hours of time to be spent per module, for a total of 30 hours for the course. This is, however, an estimate of work. Each reading can take you as much or little time as you need. Each activity can also take as much or as little time as you need. The only time component we have fixed are the length of our videos, but you could watch them multiple times or at double speed — again as much or little as you need.

As a matter of best practice, asynchronous courses are best with timelines and due dates. This ensures for there to be actionable goals and accountability for the content. We use Wednesdays to denote our weeks because it allows for you to prioritize your life before this course. We hope that the time commitment of this course can be something worked into your normal work week; as such, want to have time for you to engage after the weekend and start of a work week. We feel this is one of the structural ways for us to design with your self-care in mind.

You will get a solid beginning to your journey on making mastery graded courses. Also, lots of feedback and a chance to building community with like-minded folks! Also, a signed certificate of completion from the course if you complete 85% of all the submissions with a rating of complete.

Depending on the module, you maybe submitting reflections on philosophy or content, discussions with peers, or learning targets and course structures for expert feedback. You can see more about the assignments within the course itself, but also in our Module Overview.

You will be able to actively engage with the course for 6 weeks of content, then on a less active, but ongoing basis for an academic year (July 01 to June 30). This is the 6 live weeks for the modules and then more weeks of “implementation support.” With our implementation support we will be following up, roughly every 3 months, after the close date of the course’s content (the submission of all parts in Module 06). All our follow-ups will be based upon your responses to the Module 06 plans and surveys, so the more you put into them, the more specifically we can support you. After that point, the course will become ‘read only’ in Canvas. All this means is that you may view, download, watch, re-watch, or re-read the resources, but you will not be able to comment or submit any more. After that time, you will retain ‘read only’ access for one academic year.

Any faculty teaching in higher education! As long as you are the instructor of record and doing grades for your course, then this is for you! Though all faculty are welcome and will receive support, our content experts and facilitators are Math faculty, and so our examples and emphasis are still originally aimed towards those in the STEM disciplines.

Of course! Please contact our facilitators if anything goes wrong with starting the cohort you’re in. If you didn’t register for a cohort or have other specific questions, please email us at with the subject line: “Learning-Based Grading Higher Ed course question” and we will get back to you within 2-3 business days.

Each cohort should have a registration drop-down choice in our forms that allows you to register for the cohort. If the option is missing, check the start dates to make sure that date hasn’t passed. You cannot register for cohorts that have already started. You may register up until the start date of any cohort, as long as you are paying using a direct online payment or registration, purchase orders/invoices require more time to process on our end and will become unavailable 3 or 4 business days before the start date. 

Any online payment process should generate an invoice receipt which should send “You are Welcome” information. If for some reason you aren’t receiving any communications from us, please send an email to and we’ll respond to you within 2-3 business days. Please do note, we send enrollment information for the course 2 business days before the “open date” for the cohort. 

We are deeply committed to growing the access of learning-based grading for all instructors (including graduate students!). Please visit our scholarships page for more details on applying.