Current campus guidelines for any gathering other than academic classes, professional education programs (GTPE), or department meetings are available at

Tuesday, March 9 2021
10:45am - 12:30pm
BlueJeans (link will be sent after registration)
For more information:

Dr. Carol Subiño Sullivan
Assistant Director, Faculty Teaching and Learning Initiatives
Center for Teaching and Learning

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Assessment Hacks Revealed: Lowering Barriers while Preserving Rigor

Think back to the last time you graded student work. How long did it take? Think about the work that you put into preparing and presenting information that is new to your students. A lot of time, there, too?

What if we told you that your students can actually learn more and learn better if you were to teach less and grade less? And they would act dishonestly less often, to boot? There has to be a catch, right? Well, no.

As instructors and course designers, we often find ourselves assigning (and then grading) mountains of assessment work, in the belief that learner skills need to be scored and demonstrated by numerical measurements of mastery at every step of the learning process. This leads to test fatigue for learners and grading fatigue for instructors.

Together, we’ll explore ways to design learning interactions and assessments in order to provide learners with greater engagement, deeper application of course concepts, and meaningful demonstration of course learning outcomes—all while reducing the grading- and work-load for instructors.

This interactive webinar session presents a framework of expert-level teaching practices, all backed by the science of how our brains learn. Adopting one of three approaches that de-emphasizes numerical grades in your teaching approach can help to make learners more active, curious, and engaged, all while reducing your workload as an instructor—and preserving the rigor of the activities in which you ask learners to engage.

You’ll discover how specifications grading, ungrading, contract grading, authentic assessment, social/emotional learning, desirable difficulty, and intentional failure in learning—and their absence—contribute to the emotional roots of why students cheat and act dishonestly. You’ll explore tow common assessment practices that you can stop doing (and save yourself hours of wasted time in the bargain). After participating in this session, you will be able to …

  • Grade Less: Adopt one of a number of scaffolded grade/feedback structures that relies on completion-only and feedback-only learner activities.
  • Teach Less: Provide real-world answers to “why” questions and bring learners through the discovery process together.
  • Learn More: Design course interactions that provide learners with greater choice and defining power for learning outcomes.
  • Maintain Standards: Distinguish between rigor in knowledge and rigor in process adherence (hint: keep one high and work to lower the other).


Presented by:

Thomas J. Tobin, PhD, MSLS, PMP, MOT, CPACC is the Program Area Director for Distance Teaching & Learning on the Learning Design, Development, & Innovation (LDDI) team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally recognized speaker and author on technology-mediated education. His books include

  • Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015).
  • The Copyright Ninja (2017).
  • Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (2018).
  • Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (2020).

Additional information


The Center for Teaching and Learning envisions a campus culture that creates meaningful learning for all students, empowers people to engage in effective instruction, and values excellence in teaching.


The Center for Teaching and Learning promotes and supports an on-campus and online instructional community where excellence in teaching and learning is valued and where educators engage in evidence-based state-of-the-art practices that foster opportunities in which diverse students and instructors can thrive.