“A Worthy Performance”

What makes student work or performance worthy of an “A” in your class?  The college has an official grading scale; however, each of us determines what needs to be accomplished to achieve each level. Clearly conveying your expectations for student performance, as mentioned in last week’s tip, helps to support their success. Here are a few steps to help you communicate your grading rationale to students.

First determine what constitutes a “passing” grade. What criteria does student work or performance need to meet in order for it to be deemed a satisfactory job? Notice that I didn’t say a good job but rather a satisfactory job. Satisfactory means they performed at an acceptable level. They did not do an exceptionally good job. They certainly weren’t excellent, but they didn’t produce poor or unacceptable work either.  This defines “C” level work. Of course if most criteria are satisfactory and one or two is at a higher level they might end up with a C+ or a B-. If instead one or a few criteria are below satisfactory the student might end up with a C- or a D+.

Moving up the scale…If a student goes beyond satisfactory to a job that’s particularly well done, if their performance not only meets all of the requirements but meets them well in an observable or measurable way, they are in “B” territory. If a few of the criteria are only satisfactory while the rest are done well, the student will probably end up with a B- or even a C+.

Excellence means students have gone beyond doing a good job. Instead, they have done everything (or just about everything) extremely well. Or perhaps, they’ve added value to what was required – they’ve gone more deeply or broadly in a manner that serves the original intent of the assignment.

A single point rubric can be useful both in grading and describing an assignment. Students who are given a clear picture of satisfactory performance can be led to postulate and describe what evidence of beyond satisfactory would be. The same process can be done for below satisfactory. A single point rubric, discussed with students when an assignment is given helps them to understand what is expected of them. It also provides the instructor with the opportunity to notate the evidence she or he observes in student work, to justify the grade given, and to grade fairly.

Try it, you just might like it – Happy grading,


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