Beija Chen, Courtney Sobers and Stephanie Seda
Toggle caption Photo by Nora Luongo

Chart a Course: 'Ungrading' Chemistry Lab

In this third episode in a series of long-form conversations featuring faculty, students and staff, where we open up the floor on courses, topics, and collaborations in the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark (SASN),  Dr. Courtney Sobers Swindell, Assistant Teaching Professor in Chemistry, talks about introducing the ungrading method to her Chemistry II Lab at the height of the pandemic.

"Ungrading" involves purposefully eliminating or minimizing the use of grades to assess student work. Instead, instructors provide extensive feedback to students on their assignments, allowing the students to go back and edit their work. Finally, students and instructors come to an agreement on what their grade should be. The idea is that students will work to truly understand the material, rather than to simply get a specific grade.

In this video, Sobers, teaching assistant Beijia Chen, and student Stephanie Seda talk about how the experience compared to their traditionally graded courses, and how ungrading and gamifying STEM education could provide greater opportunity for a next generation of scientists.

"We can take these really scary subjects like organic chemistry and turn them into something fun, and hide the learning," said Sobers on her decision to use gamification and ungrading methods in her lab this spring. 

View previous "Chart a Course" episodes on the SASN YouTube channel