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Grading Assignments

Grading can be one of the most challenging aspects of a faculty member’s job, particularly because there is no precise methodology for determining what constitutes effective grading.

Barbara Gross writes, “There are no hard-and-fast rules about the best ways to grade. In fact, how you grade depends a great deal on your values, assumptions, and educational philosophy: if you view introductory courses as ‘weeder’ classes – to separate out students who lack potential for future success in the field – you are likely to take a different grading approach than someone who views introductory courses as teaching important skills that all students need to master” (1993, p. 282).

However, there are several general strategies for ensuring effective grading. First, acquaint yourself with the department or dean’s standards. While you do not want to alter completely your previous approach to grading, you do need to be aware of the expectations of the school and its students. After doing this research, align your coursework with these standards and create operational and succinct rubrics. Rubrics are explicit directions that precisely describe the instructor’s expectations of the students for a particular assignment.
In your rubrics, identify:

  Criteria: the as the aspects of performance (e.g., argument, evidence, clarity) that will be assessed
  Descriptors: the characteristics associated with each dimension (e.g., argument is demonstrable and original, evidence is diverse and compelling)
  Performance levels: a rating scale that identifies students’ level of mastery within each criterion
Rubrics can be used to provide feedback to students on diverse types of assignments, from papers, projects, and oral presentations to artistic performances and group projects. (Carnegie Mellon, 2015)

Depending on your department’s preference, you may assign point or letter grades to the categories of the rubrics.

Below are some sample rubrics.

Sample 1: Presentation Rubric
Sample 2: Paper Rubric

________________________________________________________________________________________________________ RESOURCES

Carnegie Mellon. 2015. Whys and hows of assessment. Retrieved from
Gross, B. (1993). Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey Bass