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A Brief History of Assessment Methods from Medievial Times to the Present: The Migration from Mentorship to Metrics


Christopher Perrin


We are familiar with some traditional Latin commendations like cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.  We are also very familiar with the grades with which we were branded (A, B, C, D and F) and the composite GPA which has also defined our humanity.  What most of us don’t know is how any of these designations emerged and to what purpose.  In this seminar, we will trace the origins and evolution of “grades” (from the middle ages to the present) and contrast modern assessment to traditional methods that were not so data-driven, nor well-acquainted with multiple-choice exams.   We will conclude with a discussion of mentorship in contrast to metrics and consider who some secular modern writers who are decrying the prevailing curriculum of “test-prep.”  We will also discuss how more traditional methods of assessment can be implemented within a system of education that demands numerically-based grades.