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  • Writer's pictureLorenzo Colombani

How do you grade a Stress Management course?

Prepare to die

You could teach theory and issue papers or finals.

You could ask your students to work on a project.

You could have them role-play a Stress Management Situation.

Or you can make your life easier.

If you ever heard of Dungeons & Dragons, or played any game with dice that have more that 6 faces, you're in luck: that's all you need.


  • A spreadsheet.

  • 1d4 (that's shorthand for 1 die with 4 faces, i.e. 4 possible outcomes).

  • 1d8.


  1. Start by giving everyone who actually attends a -temporary- passing grade (let's say on a scale from 0 to 20 -so 10 points). For DnD players, those would be 10 Hit Points.

  2. Have each student role 1d4 and add the resulting point(s) to their grade. Why: we are not all equally equipped to face or manage stress. The die is random and replicates the randomness of life. If the student is good at managing stress and gets a 4, great! The die reflects his or her personality. If the student is good at managing stress and gets a 1, great! The die puts him / her in the shoes of a stressed-out person (after all, luck only gave him/her 1 point above the passing grade).

  3. Design activities that automatically provide additional points (mindfulness sessions, for instance).

  4. Punish any undesired behavior. Use 1d8. Subtract the result from the grade. Most importantly, punish everyone but the culprit. Say: you gave your students a 15-minute pause. You were clear it was imperative they come back in time. One student (yes, that student) is late. All others are on time. The late student rolls 1d8. Bad luck, he rolls an 8. Subtract 8 to the score of each student. Depending on how far you're in the course, it's likely everyone now has a failing grade and is experiencing some level of stress (which you'll remedy with practical exercises and well-designed activities that give them back points). And for different reasons! The culprit might feel guilty and sense the ire of his/her classmates. His/her classmates are on the verge of failing a very easy class for no good reason.

  5. Repeat 4 to punish individual students if you want. Bend the rules a bit if necessary.

And there you have it: welcome them to the wonderful world of stress, where failure and success hang on a ridiculously arbitrary thread (an insane deadline, an unfair boss, a bad coworker, a client with unrealistic expectations), or sheer dumb luck.

Lorenzo Colombani

November 30th, 2023

Make Working Fun 2023© (Colombani Consulting).

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