Pre-Conference Assignment

Oh boy, homework! To help answer some common questions about mastery grading, and to help the organizers tailor the conference to your needs, we have put together this pre-conference assignment.

Please complete the items below by the end of the day on Wednesday June 3rd.

Even if you are an experienced mastery grader, we hope that you will find something new to learn here.


  1. Introduction to mastery grading: Read this introduction to the basics of mastery grading (3 pages).
  2. New to mastery grading? Pick one of these and read it (or read them all if you’re interested). They each give a gentle introduction to a different mastery grading style.
    1. Kate Owens: Beginner’s Guide to Standards Based Grading
    2. Austin Mohr: Mastery-Based Exams Are Self-Evidently Better than Traditional Exams
    3. Robert Talbert: Specifications Grading
    4. David Clark: Introduction to Mastery Grading
  3. Want to know more? Or, are you already experienced with mastery grading? Please pick one of these (this is optional):
    1. Read “Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently)” by Schinske and Tanner.
    2. And/or, check out some articles from the recent PRIMUS special issue on Mastery Grading for further reading. MAA members have free access to these articles through their MAA account.
  4. Everyone: Think about your answers to these questions and bring them with you to the first conference session:
    1. Why do we grade? (What is the purpose of grades?)
    2. Do grades measure what we want them to?
    3. What messages (implicit and explicit) do we tell students about grades and the grading process?
    4. What would you like to change about your current grading process? Why do you want to change those parts?
    5. What is a class in which you would like to use mastery grading? (Part of the conference will involve beginning to plan a mastery grading system for this class.)

5. Final assignment for everyone: Fill out this survey by Wednesday June 3 at the end of the day. We will use your responses to this to better focus the conference on your interests.