4. Assessment and Grading

As mentioned earlier, it is important that you be very clear about grading procedures in the syllabus and that you adhere to the stated procedures. Keep in mind that grades are a sensitive subject for many reasons (they can impact scholarships, internship/job opportunities, and graduation eligibility, and they can also impact a student's self-esteem in a way that's counter-productive).

As you learned in the Core Training module, you must be very careful to maintain privacy with grades and other student info, in line with FERPA laws. An individual students' grade information cannot be casually shared online or discussed openly around other students.

While grades are important and unavoidable, try to place less emphasis on grades and more emphasis on assessment (how well has the student learned the content?). The ultimate goal is to help students understand their own strengths and weaknesses so they can focus on improving weak areas and enhancing their learning.

When you grade assignments, exams, or essays, it is helpful to use a grading rubric to ensure consistency. If you are grading dozens of assignments one after the other, you need to make sure that you are being fair/consistent and that you own subjective biases or distractions don't impact your grading. Ideally, a rubric should be shared with students in advance so they understand how grades will be determined. A grading rubric also gives you a stronger case if a student should challenge the grade.

Strategies for Improving Out-of-Class Assignments

  • Be clear about the expectations, grading policies, and purpose of each assignment.
  • Use a mixture of “high stakes” and “low stakes” assignments to help build student confidence and to get more feedback on how well students understand key concepts.
  • Reading assignments: teach students how to read an article or textbook passage effectively. Give structured reading questions.
  • Try using “templates” to show students how you’d like them to complete an assignment. You might have them fill in a template and then try applying concepts on their own.
  • Consider letting students REVISE certain assignments (or papers or exams, etc.). This is more in line with the goal of improving student learning.


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