American University Holds Training Session On Avoiding Single Standard Grading To Achieve “Antiracist” Objectives

American University has brought in an academic from the University of Washington-Tacoma with a curious mission for an academic institution: to teach academics not to grade on the writing ability of students as opposed to their “labor.” Professor Asao Inoue believes that writing ability should not be assessed because such assessment interfere with “antiracist” objectives.

Inoue is the director of the UW-Tacoma Writing Center and has explained that “White language supremacy is perpetuated in college classrooms despite the better intentions of faculty, particularly through the practices of grading writing.” It appears that grading on writing ability is one of those acts of white supremacy. He has insisted that professors who use a single neutral standard for all students are perpetuating racism: “[using] single standard to grade your students’ languaging, you engage in racism. You actively promote white language supremacy, which is the handmaiden to white bias in the world.” 

He also previously declared: “I stand up here today asking everyone to listen, to see, to know you as you are, to stop saying shit about injustice while doing jack shit about it. We are all needed in this project, this fight, this work, these labors. But because most in the room, in our disciplines, are white, I have to speak to them too, many of whom sit on their hands, with love in their hearts, but stillness in their bodies.”

The thrust of Inoue’s lectures appear to be a “labor” focused grading system that expressly rejects uniformity of a single defined standard — the touchstone of academic work for generations. What is curious is that such non-uniform approaches to grading is an invitation for bias — the scourge of many universities from prior years where minorities and women faced fluid and often unfair grading practices.

The announced session was apparently organized with the university’s top diversity official and its vice president of campus life, Fanta Aw.American University would do well to give further thought to adopting such views and, at a minimum, have a broader debate over the pedagogical values of the university. Inoue’s views are not simply extreme but in my view inimical to the academic mission of most universities. It also does a disservice to students who overall show falling writing abilities. These students are not going to be evaluated in their careers by their “labor” or given tailored standards. They will be compared according to their objective abilities. Indeed, federal laws take a dim view of fluid standards and favor clearly defined measurements for performance.

What do you think?

109 thoughts on “American University Holds Training Session On Avoiding Single Standard Grading To Achieve “Antiracist” Objectives”

  1. Whatever the shortcomings of Professor Asao Inoue’s approach, Jonathan Turley’s writing also falls short of clarity.

    Turley writes, “Professor Asao Inoue believes that writing ability should not be assessed to achieve “antiracist” objectives.”

    For a minute this threw me completely. I suggest that what Turley means is “Professor Asao Inoue believes that “antiracist” objectives are better achieved by not grading writing ability.” That said, I’m not persuaded that this is in fact what Inoue believes.

    Turley also writes, “These students are not going to be evaluated in their careers by their “labor” or given tailored standards. They will be compared according to their objective abilities.”

    What exactly does he mean by “objective abilities”? Those abilities on which Turley and most people agree? Or those abilities on which Turley and some people agree? Or those abilities on which Turley and most other academics agree? That said, abilities are not the same as measured achievements.

  2. What do you think?

    Professor Asao Inoue needs a reality check.

    Not having a single standard to grade or work to leaves the entirety of the course open to any interpretation.

    How can you grade a paper for spelling/grammar with ambiguity?

    How can you measure your students achievements without a single standard to use as a metric?

    Have we reached the point of no return where everyone graduates regardless of merit?

    “[using] single standard to grade your students’ languaging, you engage in racism. You actively promote white language supremacy, which is the handmaiden to white bias in the world.” ~ Professor Asao Inoue

    Its now considered white bias in teaching your students to be proficient in the use of the English language?

    This reads like nothing but another in a long line of excuses for both a failing professor and failing students.

    Professor Asao Inoue’s methods for measuring his students achievements in class are so ambiguous they’re practically insane.

    1. Have we reached the point of no return where everyone graduates regardless of merit?

      Yes, the answer is a firm yes.

      As soon as a student figures out they can do little to nothing and still get in the B range, it’s becomes an efficiency game.

      I chalked it up to many biological studies, which prove the animal will do as little as possible to still get the reward, if they can.

      I only felt obligated to professors who made me feel obligated to them. And I didn’t find it as an annoyance, I felt like I was on the hook to them, the same way I would feel about an employer.

      “Do your job, do it well, or you’re fired.”

      I would say, don’t bury the students in reading until their blue in the face, but do force them to do more writing, and more multiple choice, to test their knowledge.

      That way corrections can be made before it is too late and you have another nonprepared student.

      The more you practice, the better you will become…

  3. It’s an empathetic idea. But it falls short. I understand where this Prof is coming from, but, smh…

    Writing is like playing a musical instrument, or any other hobby.

    Use it, or lose it.

    The students need more practice, not less; and certainly not, easier grading, or complete lack thereof.

    Personally, as a student, if I received a bad grade, I would look at it like a week after it posted and go….yeah…I deserved that….

    But of course, I wasn’t busting myself. I was just hanging out.

    Maybe if I had busted myself, I would have been upset. Idk…

    What I saw was a lot of complainers…a lot of students are whiners. We have a culture of whiners now.

    I refused to sign the petition over the TA at law school.

    I thought, “This is a waste of time. She could be teaching us right now, but bc you f***s are such whiners…”

    Then there was the other whining session, I refused to participate in that too.

    I said, “No, thanks. I am good. I don’t like to waste my time, or other ppls time, e.g., the professors/staff.”

    It’s suffice to say I, personally, didn’t make a lot of friends…

    But if there is a crisis, that’s the crisis…

    Entitled; Overly Sensitive…

    1. “The students need more practice, not less” The scheme is specifically designed to encourage labor in specific areas – the very thing you say students need. There is very good reason to think that students will work more if that is the thing rewarded, and that students will learn more if they work more. An interesting question – if the scheme were shown to improve students’ learning, but it became harder for employers to distinguish between students, would this be a good or bad thing?

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