Grading Redefined - Collaborative Feedback Process (CFP)

Measuring Progress Collaboratively To Aid Real Progress Individually

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

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Updated Sep 11th - Final Evolve Phase Analysis - Updating this from the google doc for easier consumption.

Idea: Collaborative Feedback Process - Measuring Progress Collaboratively To Aid Real Progress Individually

Create a new routine for grading to help students to participate and to learn from the wisdom of other students, parents, mentors and other coaches.

Introduction: Everyone sees the world differently. Grading in education is suppose to help the individual student make progress in learning. But the current grading system has made the system more about grading and less about learning. It has lead to systems which make it easy for the teacher to grade using systems like multiple choice questions (MCQ). MCQ do not deprive students of deeper learning and encourages rote learning. Various standardization tests have lead to further encouraging not only the students to become victim of this but also teachers and schools, whose productivity is measured in terms of the grades the students get. All of this has led to one main thing - The main purpose of schooling to educate the citizens of tomorrow and enabling them to learn, while giving feedback (in the form of grades) has been defeated.

The Problem: So then, how might we create a simple new system that encourages students to learn and improve their knowledge/skills as it complements the existing standardized grading system.


Dancing with the Stars - TV Show - In the show, the contestant pairs consist of a celebrity paired with a professional dancer. Past celebrity contestants have included professional and Olympic athletes, supermodels, actors, singers, and astronauts. Each couple performs predetermined dances and competes against the others for judges' points and audience votes.

Jury Based System of Law - The system which involves people from the society to be part of the jury to help/assist the judge in delivering verdict on the case.

The Solution: Collaborative Feedback Process (CFP) is collaborative feedback given by students, mentors and peers using game mechanics an game dynamics that fosters learning and curbs rote learning.

One can get an understanding of the solution through a series of "What If" questions.

What if simple measurement meters were introduced that measured learning skills like confidence, knowledge of topic, communication, etc.

What if students also built their presentation skills while they answered questions or solved problems individually or in teams?

What if the students were selected as a jurors in a random sequence to offer feedback to other students?

What if the class got to vote on the jury verdict and also give points to jurors?

What if the scores given by jury members may be considered in the final grades?

What if the teacher is not the only one who grades/asses the students?

What if members of the community like parents, mentors and coaches could be a part of the jury to help both the students and the student body jury learn simultaneously?

Potential For Impact:

For Students

    Students learn in a collaborative and yet competitive environment.

    Students not only learn how to learn, but also learn how to critique. i.e. they role play as students and judges at the same time.

    Students feel less anxious about test and grades.

    Students feel involved in the grading system.

    Students learn from the diversity of the class and also from other people within the community, i.e. parents, mentors and coaches, who are invited form time to time to be a part of the student jury.

    Students grow up better jurors for the society and more confident and impartial global citizens. (Note - nowhere in our current education system do I think we teach our kids the skill and importance of being a juror.)

    Students develop a broader prospective of thinking and learning.

    Students learn from others results of successes and failures.

    Students learn though the diverse lenses used in the class.

For Teachers

    Teachers become facilitator and an aggregator for final assessment.

    Teachers become more impartial in grading, which makes grading more meaningful.

    Teachers still remain accountable and a play a key part in the assessment process, while becoming less involved in the grading process - so to speak.

    Teachers are more free to explore other means that encourage learning in children while they get help in assessment from students and other members of the community.

    Teachers are quickly able to assess where an individual stands in respect to their peers.

    Teachers can start to focus on students who need attention in the topic through simple measures of student confidence, knowledge about topic, etc.

For Schools & School Districts

    Schools start to play a key role in involving community in the grading process and making the system more transparent.

    Schools also start to educate children about students becoming jurors and ensuring the fairness of the legal system.

    Schools are able to keep the existing standardized tests, while allowing for deeper learning and curbing rote learning at the same time.

Value Proposition / Pitch:

    Teachers: What if you could making grading more fun? What if you could invite students, other teacher and parents to help you in grading your class sometimes. What if you could help children to develop multiple skills while the students are involved in the process of grading. What if you could educate your student with the skills beyond the text books and not have to put in much of effort into the delivery? What if you could have a class, where all you do is facilitate and yet be able to give children the inspiration of a lifetime. Would you be interested in giving your students that ability to learn by critiquing? Would you be interested in a simple grading system that even a first grader can follow and execute?

    Principals: Have you dreamt of your school being the cornerstone of the community, producing some of the finest individuals in the society? How would you like for your students to learn and grow together by swapping shoes with the teachers and learning how to access? How would you like to instil the skill of your children learning to become an effective juror, early on in life? Would you like a way to way to get your children trained in life skills with almost zero investment? Would you like for your school to become a platform that brings not only the community closer but also coaches and inspires your children to grow up to be better citizens of the future? Wondered how to foster new inspiring learning experiences, and cultivate the habit of collaborative learning, without having to change your curriculum or pedagogy?

    Guardians/Parents: Concerned that the curriculum does not provide the inspiration for innovation or skills to succeed in life? Would you like for your children to be better citizens for the future? Ever imagined that by just participating in your child's class, you could not only give back to the society but also inspire your children? Would you like for your children to learn faster by sharing each other's experience? Would you like for your children to grow up to not only respect law but also be proud of the fact the they are actually trained to be better juror, which most of parents never had training in?

How would I get this idea off the ground?

    Build upon the excitement that the students are for the first time going be playing the role of a juror and offer constructive feedback to help their friends improve in studies and may be also help with their grades.

    Start small and build it up. You can use it for you next assessment/test review and build on it further.

How you can get started with CFP:

TOLR - Try >> Observe >> Learn / Improve >> Repeat

TOLR (Spelled Taller) is meant to have all the participants grow taller intellectually. The entire process is split into various phases to help the facilitator. This process is not set in stone and please do not be intimidated by the various phases. When you read them they are actually very simple and are based on simple sense.

As you use the TOLR process, we would love to get your feedback so we can learn/ improve the system based on what you as a teacher observe and share while you try it out.

Let the Journey Begin --

TRY - Phase I

    Download the Collaborative Feedback Process (CFP) kit.

What the Toolkit contains:

    CFP Guide

    CFP Session Planner Guide Template

    CFP Jury Oath Poster

    35 Feedback Response Starter Questions

    20 Feedback Response Starter Cards

    CFP Jurors 2 Step Feedback Summary Map

    Generic 2 Step Feedback Summary Map

    Progress Helper Cards

    Juror Rating Scale

    Teacher Feedback Forms

    CFP Feedback Post-It's for students (Not Included)

    Round Velcro stickers (Not Included)

    Self Esteem Scales - By Fitzer Institute

    Speaker Evaluation Explanation Guide - By Keen University

    Choose where you want to use CFP - Is it an assignment / test / project / speaking session, etc.

    Use CFP Session Guide to plan a session.

    Choose between the Simple Feedback Process or the Jury Feedback Process as mentioned in the CFP Session Planner Guide.

    Follow the guidelines mentioned in the CFP Session Planner Guide.

    Plan CFP sessions with outsiders using the session planner from the kit. The session planner is a format that can be modified to suit your needs. Invite students from other classes or other teachers or parents if you are planning a jury based feedback process.


    Class Participation - Observe how students are participating and being inspired by each other. Observe the openness in students to give and receive feedback.

    Use Feedback Thought Provocation Cards to get students to start thinking and develop critical thinking skills. One might need to adapt them based on the skills they are trying to access.

    Use CFP Feedback Post it for Students/Jurors to get feedback from the children on what they thought about the subject and what kind of feedback did they give.

    o Yellow - Self Confidence Skills

    o Pink - Topic Knowledge / Problem Understanding

    o Blue - Communication Skills

    o Green - Innovativeness.


    Measurable Impact

    Problem Understanding


    Use CFP Jurors 2 Step Feedback Map to get students to stick all their feedback post-its. Use this to show and share with the class how each one us thinks differently.

    Use the Progress Helper Cards to suggest 3 things that one can suggest to the individual that can help speed up their learning process for tomorrow. Note three things can be trimmed down to one thing.

    Contribute Back by sharing your class results with the guild community so that children who are not going to your school or who do not have CFP program in their school could benefit from this initiative.

    Use Teacher Feedback Forms to send in your feedback so we can together make CFP grow TOLR.

Repeat - Phase IV

    Have fun doing this! ! ! A HUGE Thank you!!! for inspiring your students to become better global citizens.

Materials Needed:

    Your own classroom

    Print the 1 copy of the toolkit for your class- you may need to go to the local print shop for printing posters.

    Reprint the Generic 2 Step Feedback Summary Map - Quantity = __ Class Strength

    Reprint more copies of various individual sheets based on need

    Post It Notes. Pink, Yellow, Blue & Green

    Sharpies or pencils for filling the forms and post-it's.

Additional Reference Material:

During research for this idea, the following documents were discovered, which, we think would provide more insight into a few things if you are a teachers decided to dive further into.

    Self Esteem Scales - By Fitzer Institute

    Speaker Evaluation Explanation Guide - By Keen University


Older Versions

Updated: Sep 2nd - Team, Thank you for all of you who have sent me your feedback and shared your thoughts/experiences on the topic. I have uploaded CFP Guide, (Going forward, this will be the latest version of evolution of Collaboration Feeback idea). The CFP Guide describes the process in detail so it can be implemented in any school. Feel free to edit/ comment and let me know your thoughts.

I have also created a CFP Toolkit and placed all the files there. The toolkit contains the following

    1. CFP Guide (Uploaded / WIP / Ready for Review)
    2. CFP Session Planner Guide Template (Uploaded / WIP / Ready for Review)
    3. CFP Jury Oath Poster (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    4. 35 Feedback Response Starter Questions (Uploaded / WIP / Ready for Review)
    5. 20 Feedback Response Starter Cards (Uploaded / WIP / Ready for Review)
    6. CFP Jurors 2 Step Feedback Summary Map (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    7.  Generic 2 Step Feedback Summary Map (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    8. Progress Helper Card (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    9. Juror Rating Scale (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    10. Teacher Feedback Forms (Uploaded / Ready for Review)
    11. CFP Feedback Post-It's for students (Not Included)
    12. Round Velcro stickers (Not Included)
    13. Self Esteem Scales - By Fitzer Institute
    14.   Speaker Evaluation Explanation Guide - By Keen University

    Also Included - Checklist for problem definition and analysis used during evolve phase with design thinking.

Updated: Aug 25th - Added Problem Definition Sheets, to better capture the problem and come up with suitable solutions. Feel free to add your comments -

Original Idea Draft:

Inspiration: Dancing with the Stars - TV Show

In the show, the contestant pairs consist of a celebrity paired with a professional dancer. Past celebrity contestants have included professional and Olympic athletes, supermodels, actors, singers, and astronauts. Each couple performs predetermined dances and competes against the others for judges' points and audience votes.

Idea - What if the teachers did not have to do the grading for the children?

            What if the grading/voting was done by Peers, Coaches, Judges, Mentors?

Dancing with the Stars modified version

             What if the grading was as simple as - Good, Very Good, Excellent and N/A? - See sample image above

             What if the grades were given to skills and not subjects?

              What if kids could upgrade themselves a level up by helping someone below their proficiency?

Potential Impact:

- Teachers performance becomes similar to that of a coach.

- Teachers are more free yet held accountable

- Students get a rating from their peer - in a sense will be forced to collaborate

- Students can see why another student is better then them and improve

- Community is more involved the grading. Imagine Corporate's being involved in the system. They then will be more open to hiring the kids - as they graded them.

- Students performance is based on an aggregate from various sources. Sometimes the judges need not be right. 

How might we implement this in schools?

- Can be started with Soft Skills - Communication, Leadership, etc.

Questions/Concerns/Objections from the Guild:

1. So - how might we ensure that peer grading does not become a form of social currency--giving high marks to friends or other students we desire to have as friends?

Here is what I found after implementing this at our summer camps:

- Children are usually very fair in giving marks. They do not like to cheat. Now this might be in younger children not so much in the older ones, who are looking to game the system, which I think is ok. As an energy, we are always looking for the shortest path. This a part our DNA, the reason why we innovate and try to make things better or comfortable or lazier - Depends which way you look at it.

- Now trying to game the system means teamwork. United they stand or divided they fall. Which I think is a very nice thing to inculcate in children - especially when the school academic system currently divides everyone into individually. Having the comfort that someone has got my back leads to greater innovation and team spirit. The reason why the military forces have very strong team spirit in them. 

- I am a believer that we should always leave a chance for people to feel they can game the system - This leads to innovation. Apple is a great example. Once they had the iphones out. They (I think) also allowed for people to jailbreak the phone. They could have very well stopped jailbreaking if they really wanted, but they did not.  This led to people innovating many things. All they did later was, just brought some of the best innovations in their next OS releases. Platform Cydia has many beautiful apps and hacks that people want which apple was not providing. This helps Apple understand user behavior. So I think leaving an opening for children to game the system is good in a way.

- This opens the doors for strategic thinking. Yes social currency may be. So what! I ask what is wrong with it? Everyone is not good at everything, and with every new system, there does arise a new set of winners. I think the idea should be to recognize different kids of people in the system. More so as creators of the game, we can bend the rules and create new ones, throw new curve balls at anytime, we feel it is going out of balance. I say - So let the Hungry Games begin. 

I have had so much fun in many instances, changing the rules, based on what I saw going, to balance the game and make it interesting. As long as it was a fair challenge, the kids had no complains whatsoever.

- More so in the system I propose, peer grading is not the only grading. So there does exist a way to mitigate the risk with other teachers and mentor ratings.

2. How do you see this coach/mentor relationship scaling to a classroom where the teacher must coach many students?

- This is where I propose community help - from Parents, Mentors, Corporate, etc. If we have 

- Also the reason why I propose Project Based Learning in teams. Teams I think have a great potential to allow for various people to take on different roles.

- I see the role of the teacher to be the role of  facilitator between various teams.  Now this is where it becomes slightly different - Unlike Dancing with the stars - they are not hand holding the teams to their next stage performance. As a facilitator, they are connecting children and their mentors and pointing them in the best possible direction towards their discovery. They in a sense become the aggregators. Something that was shown in Khan Academy on how the role of the teacher had changed to facilitator, once Khan Academy was implemented in the school. 

- The role of the master coach is to give guidelines. Another excellent example of this in action has been done by the teachers at King Middle School, Portland Maine. Here the science teacher was coaching/mentoring multiple children/teams with their robotic inventions. So I see this more of a coaching issue than as a hurdle.

A video of the King Middle School STEM Project -

An article that I posted on STEM PBL -

All of these questions are so genuine yet so adult like. By that I mean we as adults look for the perfect way/method. As an entrepreneur, I see and think, what works is the process of failing fast and small, to develop something big. Kids usually try anything thrown at them and make it fun. Hence we should look at making it fun and letting it evolve. The goal should not be about putting "THE" perfect system, but the goal should be to start a platform, where grading can also contribute towards innovation.


Join the conversation:

Photo of T.J. Edwards

We've experimented with this at my school. In one instance, every student in the school worked on a PBL type project and had to pass a shark tank style pitch process before being approved to continue with their project. The experience was great, over all. In the room hearing as pitch was usually a mix of 1-2 teachers, an administrator, and 1-2 external experts. The feedback from external experts was fantastic as it made the experience quite real for students, however it was tough to calibrate assessments in the room. That is, teachers generally had a good feel for what to expect out of a 14 yr old for instance, but the assessments by external experts varies widely.

We tried to fix this later in the the semester when we held an Expo to show off student projects and again seek feedback from external experts. This time we created a short - 20 min - training session for evaluators. See this slide show:

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

TJ, Thank you for sharing your experiences and the slide deck. I have updated the idea and included a lot of sheets, which I think would help you solve some of the things you experienced in the class. Kindly review it and let me know your thoughts. Also do feel free to edit it in the google docs.

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