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Columbia University Seminar to Promote ‘Inclusive Grading’

The Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), housed in a gracious office on the ground floor of the Columbia library, is launching a new class to educate professors on how to be “inclusive” to all students -- except, of course, conservatives.

The “Inclusive Teaching Seminar” will be held in Spring 2018 and will host five meetings. While “inclusive” is vague, the CTL website explains that each session will be dedicated to a specific topic, such as “inclusive grading” or “preventing microaggressions.”

PhD students -- future professors -- are specifically invited to apply, but Columbia officials did not respond to inquiries on if the seminar will be mandatory for anyone, or if attendance could count towards tenure applications for junior faculty.

“In a cohort of peers, participants will engage in conversations around topics such as learning through diversity, growth mindset, microaggressions and implicit bias, trigger warnings, stereotype threat, and inclusive homework assessments,” the program explains.

According to a December 6, 2017 Powerpoint presentation by the CTL, inclusive grading starts by “trusting students to assess themselves.”

While this may seem counterintuitive -- especially considering the three documented cheating scandals at Barnard and Columbia since 2013, not to mention cheating that goes unnoticed — the CTL urges professors not to be discouraged.

Grades are currency for a capitalist system that reduces teaching and learning to a mere transaction” (emphasis added), the CTL states, quoting activist Jesse Stommel. “Grading is a massive co-ordinated effort to take humans out of the educational process.”

Fifteen of the 34 Powerpoint slides specifically encourage professors to let students grade themselves. If students can choose their own grades, the presentation asserts, then they’ll feel less stress and anxiety, and maybe even learn more productively.

According to one study by Nelta Edwards, a professor at the University of Alaska, 86% of students report that “self grading is a great/good teaching method.”

“It was nice to know your grade right away and not torture yourself over a bad exam for a whole weekend,” one student who was able to self-grade told Edwards.

The Inclusive Teaching Seminar is one of many CTL offerings dedicated to social justice.

Yesterday, for instance, it hosted a two-hour workshop dedicated to “microaggressions.” All faculty and administrators received an email invitation earlier this month, one invitee told PJ Media.

“The scourge of CLTs is nationwide; they are dedicated to watering down pedagogy to accommodate the casualties of racial preferences,” said the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, author of the new book The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine our Culture.

“Columbia is wasting its faculty's time and impeding students' ability to learn by buttressing the ludicrous myth that its classrooms are sites of bias,” said Mac Donald.

“In fact, there has never been a more opportunity-filled environment in human history than an American college campus,” she added.

During my recent four years at Columbia University and Barnard College (after which I graduated, of course), none of my professors let me self-grade, used trigger warnings, or called out microaggressions during class.

Perhaps future students may notice a change.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen