Teaching and student learning can become hefty part of the college professor life. Instructors must consider what are the students’ prior knowledge, students’ expectations, reasonable course topic presentation order, course assessment mechanisms and degree program’s learning outcomes.
End of term grading (EOT #GradingJail) includes, but not limited to: the duration between end of classes and when term grades are due. It's one of the academic stressors. First, there is a short amount of time to score the last assignment, final project deliverable and/or final-term exam. Second, students seem to all of a sudden know my name, email and office location by end of the term in an effort to meet with me about their performance, or lack thereof, in the course. Third, the non-teaching responsibilities mound as internal and external reports are due to various levels of the institution's administration. But the #GradingJail stressor can be managed. The one and only rule I have to share is protect yourself from the potential disgruntled students and grade appeals.
EOT #GradingJail starts at the beginning of the semester. Here's a highlight reel of my course policies:
Assignments are due on a <date> at <time>. Any assignment will be penalized 25% of the original possible score if it is turned in within 24 hours of the due date and time. It will be graded based upon 50% of the original possible score if it is turned within 24 to 48 hours of the original due date/time. No assignment will be accepted later than that.
Graded exams and quizzes will not be returned. To review a graded exam or quiz, the student must make an appointment with the instructor.
To discuss a grade-related matter, the student must make an appointment with the instructor. The instructor will not discuss any grade-related matter over email or in the presence of other students, unless it’s concerning a team project.
A student has one week to inquire and submit an appeal about his/her score after it is posted to Blackboard. After one week, the score will be final. The GTA (graduate teaching assistant) or I will send an announcement via Blackboard when scores are posted. Note: The one week appeal period helps circumvent student EOT point haggling.
Life is not True/False or Multiple Choice so neither are any assignments in this course. In other words, no T/F or MC questions.
Providing feedback, especially in a timely fashion, is important for student learning. However, students attempt to garner favor at every turn so being savvy to their tactics is must. Hold them accountable and be accountable. Be consistent and tough but fair in your grading. Be prepared to easily (and frequently) answer 5 of 6 information gathering questions concerning your coursework feedback policies.
Q1: Who provides the feedback?
A1. Instructor and/or GTA
Q2: What are the feedback avenues?
A2. Assessment mechanisms can include homework assignments, labs, exams, in-class exercises, course project deliverables and peer reviews.
Q3: When will the student receive feedback?
A3. Digitally through comments on graded homework and lab assignments. Face-to-face conversations during lecture, office hours and scheduled appointments
Q4: Where will the student receive feedback?
A4. For the online submitted assignments, Blackboard or another course management system. For written submitted coursework, comments are hand-written on the coursework so the student must see the instructor to view these comments.
Q5: How will the feedback be given to the student?
A5. Typed, written and orally. I strongly suggest that instructors devise an evaluation/grading rubric for each assignment. When students argue for points, and they will, you reference your grading rubric. I am in favor of using a matrix-style rubric. The rows are the instructor-defined evaluation criteria and the columns are labelled no evidence, does not meet expectations, meets expectations and exceeds expectations. Then, the instructor can assign the point structure as appropriate. The release of the grading rubric to the students is at the instructor's discretion.
Academic Integrity and Dishonesty
As required by every institution, instructors are to include the student plagiarism policy to their course syllabus. My years as a GTA and instructor has taught me the following. Those who plagiarize know exactly what they chose to do. Most of those who plagiarize then expect grace and mercy. I give them none. I suggest you do the same.
We mark the end of another term. Spring 2014 is put to bed. Congratulations, you survived it.