Talking About Teaching

Talking About Teaching



These in-person events are hosted by the Teaching Centre multiple times per year. Join us for a small panel discussion, a guest speaker or a round-table discussion.

All faculty and graduate students are welcome to attend. Do you have ideas that you would like to explore via a Talking About Teaching?

Contact Brad Reamsbottom ( to discuss your ideas.


Past topics have included:

  • ChatGPT, AI and the Changing Classroom
  • Are We Teaching Our Students Dangerous Ideas
  • Provoking Student Thinking
  • Back in Class!
Spring 2024 

Talking About Teaching — Ungrading and Labour-Based Grading

Dr. Devon Smither (Art History/Museum Studies) and Dr. Jason Laurendeau (Sociology)

Thursday, Feb. 29| 2 to 4 p.m.

In this brief presentation and open conversation, Drs. Smither and Laurendeau will talk about their experiments with ungrading and labour-based grading. 

Labour-based grading, sometimes referred to as contract grading, is a type of grading assessment in which grades are based on the amount of labour that is agreed upon between students and the instructor. This grading method focuses on learning as labour, rather than the “quality” of the work that is produced.

In one approach to what some call “ungrading,” assessment is put largely in the hands of students (with considerable instructor support), who reflect on the feedback they receive on various assignments and self-assess their performance in the course.

Drs. Smither and Laurendeau will outline the core principles of labour-based grading and ungrading, offer examples of how they have implemented these assessment approaches in their courses, discuss the successes and challenges that they faced, and talk about student feedback.

Their presentation will encourage attendees to reflect on the role that assessment and grading play in their pedagogy and offer an introduction to the ways that different grading schemas can build equity and inclusion in the classroom.

How can a reappraisal of our grading help us innovate our assignments and assessments?

How does a reconsideration of our assessment practices also lead to a reconsideration of the learning outcomes in our discipline?