Ungrading is an umbrella term for any assessment that decenters the action of an instructor assigning a summary grade to student work. While there are many ways to do ungrading, instructors generally provide students with formative rather than summative feedback, which may be combined with student self-evaluation and/or peer feedback, as well as dialogue with the student.
Summative feedback, or feedback that justifies or explains a final evaluation/grade, can easily become an external motivator for students that works against internal motivation for learning. Formative feedback may be understood as “coaching,” providing constructive feedback to a student that assumes that the student is on a path to learning rather than at a destination. By emphasizing formative feedback, ungrading approaches learning as a process or a journey rather than the completion of a set of tasks or competencies.