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Contributors Joseph Bergin, Christian Kohls, Christian Köppe, Yishay Mor, Michel Portier, Till Schümmer, Steven Warburton
Last modification May 17, 2017
Source Bergin et al. (2016)[1]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

Also Known As: Points Toward Goal (Points Toward Goal)

Allow students to accumulate points for multiple small assessments towards their final grade.

You are a teacher designing the course assessment structure. It is not a fundamental course in which the mastery of most topics is essential.


Students have different overall goals and expectations.

Some follow a satisficing “good enough” rather than an optimizing strategy.

Not all of the material is essential to master in order to continue.

Your students will be frustrated if they don't see a clear path to meeting their own goals.


Therefore: base assessment on total points earned. Specify points for each of many course tasks. Grade levels are based on accumulated points.

Set the points for each task so that different combinations result in student success but in such a way that each will learn sufficiently to continue even if not all tasks are completed. The solution permits the student with modest expectations to succeed on his/her own terms but also has an opportunity to go farther as time and desire permit. But the student also has the freedom to focus on other things outside the course.

As a variation you might choose to do this for only a portion of the course assessment, rather than the overall grading.

You may expect: A student can meet his or her own goals and then not do more.

However:Any “final exam” will need to account for the student’s choices. This works best if exams are a small part of the overall assessment.

This is not a good solution if mastery of all the material is essential.


Joe Bergin uses this in a Compiler Course. Each language feature is awarded points. He also once taught a course that the choice of two assignments, one easier than the other and labelled as such. A surprising number of students chose the harder project.

Related Patterns

It is essential that Visible Grading (Visible Grading) is used. Each student needs to know the state of progress toward their goal.

To motivate a student with modest expectations you can apply something like Student Selected Activities (Student Selected Activities). Also Groups Work (Groups Work). Distinguish this from Menu of Activities (Menu of Activities) as this focuses more on quantity of work done.


  1. Bergin, J., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., Mor, Y., Portier, M., Schümmer, T., & Warburton, S. (2016). Student's choice of assessment. In Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2016) (p. 22). New York:ACM.