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DALL·E 2024-02-15 10.53.09 - Design a futuristic report card in a 4_1 aspect ratio, comple

Teaching and measuring fundamental human skills.

Our Assessment Approach

Our purpose at Parlay Seminars is to prepare students with skills and dispositions they will need to be independent thinkers, economic contributors, and thoughtful citizens. We achieve this by leveraging a discussion-based learning methodology that teaches these important skills, and by implementing a corresponding assessment and feedback protocol that tracks individual development of these skills over time.


First, there are explicit skills. These are practical, teachable, and measurable skills (e.g. building strong arguments, communicating clearly, or challenging ideas). Each week, student engagement in both Written and Verbal RoundTables is measured / assessed on the basis of these explicit skills, and teachers provide personalized feedback to students prior to the start of the following week.


Second, there are dispositions (e.g. developing a philosophical perspective or learning to grapple with "big questions") that we value equally, or more. However, we do not actively assess these dispositions because they are developed naturally as a consequence of continuous engagement in high quality literature discussions during a Parlay Seminar.

Skills Evaluation
Written RoundTable

In the weekly Written RoundTables, we teach students three core skills that relate to thinking and communicating in writing:

  1. Building Arguments - Using claims, evidence, and reason to make coherent and defensible arguments is the basis for all critical thinking. 

  2. Providing Feedback - Thoughtfully challenging, questioning, and building on the arguments of others is a necessary foundation for effective collaboration and discovery.

  3. Writing Composition - Writing in full sentences with appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation is a necessary skill that we don’t teach anymore, but must.

Each week, students will be evaluated on a rubric scale of 1 to 4 (see below) for each of these three skills. Included in this assessment will be teacher feedback explaining the rationale for their weekly grade and how they can improve in the future.

Written RoundTable Rubric
Verbal RoundTable

In the weekly Verbal RoundTable, we aim to teach students four core skills that relate to thinking and communicating in a real-time spoken conversation:

  1. New Idea - Introducing new ideas, perspectives, or arguments to the discussion for the group to consider. 
  2. Build On - Extending and building on the ideas of others, moving the conversation forward as a result.
  3. Challenge - Respectfully disagreeing or providing an alternative perspective or interpretation of the ideas of others.
  4. Question - Posing new thought-provoking questions that deepen the current line of inquiry, or fork it to take the conversation in a new direction.

In real time, students are “tapping in” to the discussion with the intention to participate in one of these four ways. These speaking turns are measured so that we can keep an accurate picture of the number of times a student contributes, the nature of said contribution, and the amount of time they spend contributing to the discussion. The instructor makes observations about student participation in real time and provides feedback accordingly. 

Tap In Summary
Sentence Stems
Reporting and Accreditation

Throughout the course, students are assessed and provided feedback on the same criteria every week. Through this repetition, we ensure that students have ample opportunity to participate, receive and integrate teacher feedback, and then improve. We track instructor assessment of these skills and individual participation metrics over the duration of the Seminar. This trending data is coupled with a summary of instructor feedback and used as the basis for a final engagement report which is provided to students and parents at the end of the Parlay Seminar. 

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Parlay Seminar accreditation is awarded to students based on a combination of skill development, participation metrics, and qualitative instructor evaluation. At the end of the course, students will receive a digital badge outlining their course completion and accreditation level which they can add to their LinkedIn or share with prospective schools and employers. There are three levels of accreditation that students can achieve:

Level 1 - Basic Completion
Level 2 - Continuous Improvement
Level 3 - Demonstrated Mastery
Interested in joining?

Click below to browse and register for our upcoming seminar cohorts.

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