It’s almost the end of the fall semester, a time when students are inordinately focused on one singular number: their final grade. I fear that even as they construct their final project, their writing e-portfolios, they are so concerned with the grade that they miss out on seeing the best parts: their growth over the semester, the diversity of genres and perspectives they’ve learned to navigate, and the risks they’ve taken.

When we’re pushing so hard for the ideal end product we have in our minds, it’s easy to overlook the parts that contribute to the whole.

I see traces of myself in the students who bemoan a B+ (ask any college instructor — it is always the student who receives a B+ who is most upset, not the student who gets a C or an F). As important and necessary as outcomes are, this is where I see a problem: when these students ask me how they can get an A, not how they can improve their writing.  TWEETThe final outcome is a product of all the brainstorming, revisions, and drafting, and shouldn’t supplant everything that went into it. They have a difficult time seeing that huge improvement from a rough draft to a final draft is itself an indication of success, or that digging into a compelling inquiry, especially when they don’t get the answer they expected and the results aren’t neat and tidy, is more important than playing it safe.