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        Bravo for Evergreen's replacing grades with this kind of self-conscious reflection. I think the above account shows that its benefits occur throughout a student's course of study, that it is more than an "assessment". Having implemented something similar within particular courses, and seen similar results in terms of student awakening, I endorse their efforts wholeheartedly. Outside of such a progressive, small liberal arts environment, however, those who try this may find themselves confronted with students who have rarely, if ever, engaged in this kind of self-reflection on the trajectory of either their learning or their lives. As a result I was prompted to write an essay explaining my notion of what I was asking them to do:
        Fortunately, most found it useful and often expressed sentiments akin to those related above.

          • The same type of assessment is used at Walden University, except as an assignment at the beginning and ending of each course. I agree that students should think about the purpose of their education as it applies to life choices. Learning only to secure a job, although should be one priority in seeking higher education is not the statement of the individual that is paramount. We live in an interactive world where non Western viewpoints are integrating into Western viewpoints. Therefore, students should learn to appreciate different viewpoints in a vastly different global society.

              • Straight A's for everyone!

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                    I've read Evergreen transcripts for transfer credit. Narratives are intellectually impenetrable. They read like they could have been computer generated by the same program that produces phoney science articles with undecipherable, complex jargon-filled language. This program is not interdisciplinary but non-disciplinary.

                    Look at the buzz-word filled examples: "organically connected..private human beings living their lives .. transformational ..front page of talent..embracing and interfacing with the complexity of the world ..while demystifying it " This is exactly the language one sees in their "narrative grades." "Full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing," as Shakespeare would say.

                    Reading these narratives is an assault on one's higher critical thinking skills; or let me say it this way, "I encourage all human beings living their lives, not those leading other people's lives, who feel impelled toward the attainment of humanistic and transformational endeavors rich in verbal and emotional complexities associated with the interconnected web of life in an interdisciplinary, self-directed program, with no identifiable major field of study to enroll at Evergreen State."

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                        Interesting response to the article.

                        As a graduate of Evergreen, I feel comfortable saying that many students who transfer out of the college do so because they can't handle the free-form curriculum and the level of personal responsibility that one has to take over their education. It isn't an easy thing to do.

                        Evergreen intentionally (and, of course, for enrollment purposes) has an incredibly high acceptance rate. And that's okay. It's a self-selecting college, and many people drop out early on because the educational style just doesn't fit their needs.

                        I find your assessment of Evergreen probably based off of your experience with students who attended for two or three quarters (or maybe a few years), and then decided to transfer because it was too challenging and they needed someone to hold their hand and guide them through a traditional undergraduate experience. Or, perhaps, they needed to get an engineering degree to pursue their field. Evergreen is obviously not that school.

                        Also, no one who has attended Evergreen would ever call Evergreen "Evergreen State."

                        • Well, if you're one of those people who think actual education is more important than certificates or easily compared numerical scores....
                          Good for you, Evergreen, for reminding us all of what's important.

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                              I think this is a great exercise and educational approach for students in the liberal arts or other nonvocational degree fields. I, myself, graduated with a degree in English and Creative Writing. After graduating, and subsequently not finding a job "using my degree" (like, say, an Engineering student would) I had to ask myself--well, what DID I learn? What did I gain? I'm 32 now, and after that self-reflection period, I learned that I gained and honed a lot of intangible skills without which my current job wouldn't have been available to me. Presenting to students the nature of their education in this way is truly a great approach, as opposed to the traditional (you do this to become this) approach that can still be applied to other areas of study--for now at least--but not necessarily the liberal arts.

                                • This is a fascinating experiment, which I have no doubt adds value for the student. Where I do have doubt is about the signaling power of the transcript to any third party. I'd like to know about this college's student outcomes post-graduation, versus those of similar colleges using traditional transcripts. Has this been assessed, does anyone know?

                                    • While I think the intentions are right, and I applaud them for attempting to give some added attention to reflection, this is the type of reflection that gives "reflection" a bad name. If we want reflective, integrative learning to be taken seriously (as it should) there should be spaces for faculty and advisors to push back- to challenge the "sound and fury...signifying nothing" cited by another comment. Good reflection makes explicit connection between in- and out-of classroom experiences, cites specific skill transfer, shows acknowledgement of deficiencies and plans that address them or take it into account. It isn't a marketing narrative to be attached to a transcript, it's a difficult, iterative, formative experience and its treatment should be taken as seriously and as critically as we take academic work.

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                                          A little weird that on the verge of graduating from college, you don't know if you're going to be a farmer, or a writer, or an organizer, or a teacher.