Friday, April 8, 2016

Principles of Effective Grading

       As teachers, our job is not only limited to giving daily lessons required by the curriculum. We also have to assess and give marks to our students. Every periodical period, we are tasked to solve grades for our students as a sort of feedback to them. Grades may be just a number for some, but these could imply a lot of things to our students. Some students may be motivated to push more to improve, while others may get discouraged. These are the reasons why that as teachers, we should take this task seriously and effectively. Thus here are some principles teacher can do to provide effective grading to their students. These principles were adapted from de Guzman-Santos(2007).

  1. Discuss grading measures to students at the start of instruction
One of the routines that we do as teachers during the first day of classes, aside from do’s and don’ts inside the classroom, is no other than discussing our grading system. This is a way to make our students be clarified on the processes relating to their grades. At the same time, they will be given the idea on how will they be assessed and to plan their future actions in order to achieve their desired grade.

  1. Accurately weigh the various types of achievements included in the grade
Every grade is a sum of achievement from various components. These components would include quizzes, projects, recitation etc. It is important to properly weigh these components since these components vary from one subject to another. Some subject may focus on written works while some on performance and outputs. Bottomline is, teachers should justify each of these components that would best reflect student’s achievement and performance.

  1. Relate grading procedures to intended learning outcomes
Describe to the students that their grades will be based on how they have achieved a certain learning outcome. Most of the time, teachers would give a certain criterion like 75% passing mark in a test or activity. It has to be made clear among the students as to what comprises this certain criterion like they have to get 30 correct items out of 40 to pass, or they have to answer 3 out of 5 problems or perform 32 counts of jumping jack etc. This way, students would know their target and perhaps perform the intended learning outcome better and above the given criterion.

  1. Explain that grades will be based on achievement only.
Most of the time, a grade could reflect a lot of things. We may give grades based on the actual performance or achievement of the student while some would include how much effort and diligence the student exhibited. This is the reason why there is a need to clarify among students on the way they will be graded. Ideally speaking, a grade should reflect achievement only. However, as teachers, we also tend to give credits to the efforts done by our students. This is quite a dilemma among us. For example, how will you grade a student who are tardy and truant but performs well inside the classroom visavis a student who goes to school everyday and is diligent but still get low scores on your assessment results? If you can’t help giving credits aside form achievement, discuss and clarify this to the class. This way, students would also show favorable and good attributes and not just overconfidently rely on their assessment results.

  1. Acquire valid evidence (test, etc.) for assigning grades
Try to utilize a variety of tools to assess your students to serve as valid evidences of their grades. One of the worst things that a teacher could do is to give a grade out of nowhere without any proofs of this grade. Some parents are very particular with their children’s grades and questioning the teacher about the grade given to their son/daughter is very common nowadays. If we have these valid evidences, we can surely justify the grades that we gave to our students. This maintains our integrity as teachers and at the same time ultimately gives our students a valid reflection of their achievement.

  1. Return and review all test results as soon as possible.
This is very important but some teachers are quite guilty of this. We need to return test result to our students so that they can monitor their own learning. This is a form of feedback to them so that they can work on the parts that they found difficult and performed low.

  1. Control cheating among students
It is important to know who performs well or not inside our classroom. As much as possible, we want our grades to be given to those who deserve it. This however would be a challenge if there is a rampant cheating among the students. We would end up giving grades to wrong students and thus would send a wrong feedback. One way to solve cheating among our students is to be vigilant. A simple principle of proximity or being visible and near our students is enough to make students stop cheating especially during examinations.

  1. Be fair. Avoid bias. When in doubt, review the evidence. If still in doubt, give the higher grade.
Always be fair to our students. Avoid favoritism because this may result to halo effect. Avoid being personal as well especially to those students we find annoying because this may result to evil effect.  These biases may unconsciously influence our grade. We may end up giving a higher grade to those students we like while giving a lower grade to those we hate. Focus on the evidences gathered during the grading period and not on our subjective opinions about our students.

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