Melissa Wilson on how Minerva Baccalaureate’s multiple assessment tools allow for effective student grading

Minerva Project
February 2, 2021

Melissa Wilson is a Minerva Baccalaureate instructor teaching World Cultures since December 2020.

How are the Minerva Baccalaureate classes you teach different from standard high school classes?

There is a high expectation for student participation, collaboration, attendance, and accountability, as they are required to come with pre-work completed, knowing that they will be assessed on it. Students are encouraged to share what doesn't make sense and know that they will be supported in finding the solutions and answers. They leave class with real-world applications of the theoretical concepts discussed and with personal learning connections.

What kind of preparation is needed to be able to facilitate Minerva Baccalaureate classes?

While preparing to teach Minerva Baccalaureate classes, professors need to have a good understanding of Forum as well as knowing how to assess students’ work in Forum. Students are graded on a 4-point mastery rubric from “No knowledge” to “Deep Knowledge”, inviting students to justify and explain responses using examples from their readings and personal experience. Students are graded both on in-class contributions through written polls and spoken contributions and on several longer assignments in each course.

What kinds of activities do you find work well or that students thrive on in an active learning environment?

Building a community that continues after the course is completed is key in supporting students. I also find that collaborating on content, for example in breakout rooms where they apply theoretical concepts to real-world scenarios, really helps students thrive, as they debate different topics, support each other, and ask each other questions to find solutions collectively. In one class, students took on the voice of United Nations representatives to advocate that their particular country's intangible cultural heritage was deserving of funds.

What is a moment in your Minerva Baccalaureate course that stands out as being active, interdisciplinary, and called students to high-level thinking?

All moments are memorable to me, as students must be actively listening to be effective team members and they engage with content prior to class so they can be able to contribute. They utilize verbal and written skills during every session and lead discussions themselves. They must be able to understand the content and apply it to real-life scenarios. Students are analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating on all levels, in class, and in coursework. For example, for the “LO” (Learning Outcome) #scales, students identify the meaning of scales in the simplest forms to the most complex within specific content and context. Students are then pushed to think how #scales is exemplified cross-curricularly, in daily life, or in different careers and the reasons behind its importance.

What is your favorite thing about teaching Minerva Baccalaureate classes?

The students and their love of Forum! It provides a real opportunity to collaborate with their peers in a way that has high expectations of ALL in a very trusting environment.


Building upon the best in contemporary high school curricula, the Minerva Baccalaureate is a transformative four-year program that teaches essential skills across disciplines. The program blends self-paced coursework with engaging peer-based class time, offering the advantages of both individualized and fully active learning techniques. Students learn in a fast-paced format that interweaves core subjects to accelerate understanding, capability, and growth.

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