It may be hard for us as faculty to admit to ourselves that many assignments end up being forgotten—dumped in an actual or virtual trash can—once we’ve graded them. Educator David Wiley has dubbed these assignments “disposable” because they “add no value to the world— after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away.”
Wiley instead encourages faculty to craft “renewable assignments” that add value to the world (in and/or outside of the course) after they are completed. What the students produce through their coursework can be useful to and usable by fellow students, the instructor, and others. Examples include:
Wiley says, “Students tell me that they invest significantly more time and effort in these assignments and enjoy doing them more.” It is understandable that if students are working for a wider audience, and if they think the work is valuable to others, they might have a larger buy-in than disposable assignments. In addition, higher education institutions might be able to connect renewable assignments to the University’s broader learning outcomes. As for improving student learning, if authentic assessments are valuable in that regard, what could be more authentic than actually doing work that one might otherwise be asking students to simulate?
Finally, students must be given a choice as to whether or not they want their work to be public, and if so, whether they wish to give their work an open license. After all, the copyright for their work belongs to them.
Hendricks, C. (2015, Oct. 29). Renewable assignments: Student work adding value to the world. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
Bob Casper is an Instructional Design Consultant at Boise State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning
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