The Grading System

Tuesday, June 26, 2001


Facilitator: Cynthia Wilson

Recorder: Maria Guevara-Lee


Issues and Solutions


Observations and Questions:

·         What does a grade reflect?

·         There is an assumption that there is something wrong with current grading system.

·         Does a grade reflect application of knowledge?

·         Different answers and several generalizations arise.

·         Instructors are responsible for issuing of grades.

·         Forms of measurement exist throughout our society and with good reason.

·         Within education we think of responsibility of instructor as well as the responsibility of the institution.

·         Some disagreement over Dressel’s quote regarding grading.

·         An element of unfairness linked to grading is also found in society; in private industry, a relationship exists between grading and accountability.

·         Grading allows for broad generalizations but fails to demonstrate how much actual learning takes place.

·         If in one class, a student earns a C but learned much more than in another class where the student earned an easy A, the question may become, which should be measured: growth or mastery?

·         How do grading systems enhance student learning?

·         We, as educators, may not be the most appropriate source to drive change, since many of us have been products of good grades.

·         Very little time is spent in teacher training programs addressing grading issues, although much of instructors’ time is spent grading papers.

·         Grades are additive. A student starts with zero points in a class and points are added as work is measured. This conflicts with students who assume they started with 100 points, and instructor has deducted points.

·         Grades also measure instructors’ performance, not just students’ performance. 


Groups Reports


Group One    


·         Learning Outcomes must be identified.

·         Create systems where students learn from the process.

·         Teach self-evaluation and the ability to negotiate.

·         Offer professional development in grading.

·         Develop learning contracts in which method and outcome are connected and the student participates in creating his or her learning plan.

·         Provide positive reinforcement.

·         Shift control from the instructor initially to the student ultimately in control of his or her own learning.

·         Create no time boundaries (semester/quarters) by which learning must occur.

·         Monitor pre-placement and ensure appropriate placement into courses.

·         Introduce the idea that grades are additive in nature.

·         Foster the idea that students are allowing themselves to be evaluated and, therefore, they pick their evaluators.

·         Assess and intervene.


Group Two


·         Publish established standards.

·         Report progress only.

·         Add to grade depending on level of competency.

·         Transcripts equal accomplishments, not just grades (e-portfolio?). To demonstrate caliber of student work, provide evidence beyond the grade.

·         Require multiple measures and multiple evaluators.

·         Offer opportunity for open entry/open exit courses in which students are paying for the evaluation of their work rather than a seat in class.

·         The portfolio becomes the validation to employer and/or university.

·         Make degree graduation requirements relevant.

·         Understand that some things are not measurable in quantitative terms (e.g., work ethic, professionalism, ancillary learning).

·         Perform needs assessment up front.

·         Support services for areas where their learning is weak so that adopt new learning strategies.


Group Three


·         Expect imperfection as none of us are perfect.

·         Celebrate learning first.

§         Foster the idea that student and college are partners in learning.

§         Incorporate learning skills in the classroom.

§         Utilize forward thinking; think of course outcomes.

§         Provide a knowledge connection, illustrating how courses relate to one another; this can be done especially well within learning communities.

§         Mentor student growth in real time.

§         Link knowledge to multiple measures.

§         Cite expectations of course clearly.

§         Demonstrate value (e.g., in team interaction when assignments and projects call for it).

·         Create an environment for learning: Learning Assessment System replaces Grading System.

§         Review needs assessment of the institution.

§         Review classroom assessment.

§         Clarify expectations and benchmarks.

§         Practice goal setting.

§         Examine content and integrate support services into classroom environment.

§         Provide for peer evaluation.

§         Provide for continued evaluation of our own evaluation tools.