Thursday, July 17, 2008

All About Grading

Legal_writing_institute_logoBlevins_timothy_2 Timothy D. Blevins of Florida A&M presented on "Grading: Using Spreadsheets and Rubrics." Breaking down the points per category can convey a greater sense of fairness in grading.  He also recommended reserving a percentage of the assessment total for an holistic assessment (less than 10 percent of the overall grade).  He urged professors to include spaces for comments, and to provide effective feedback that should lead to better future results for the student.Gibson_brenda Brenda D. Gibson, director at North Carolina Central University School of Law, called grading rubrics "the life insurance" for legal writing professors.  Her school is presently an adjunct program (with nine adjuncts, working in teams of three), but it is moving to a full-time program.  She believed that grading rubrics are a sound way of providing continuity in grading, and that minimizes (and, in her program, eliminated entirely) grade appeals.

She discussed these points in creating an effective grading rubric, and provided an example of the grading rubric she uses.  Here is her methodology for creating grading rubrics:

  • create the assignment
  • work through the assignment, highlighting the points you expect your students to make.  As you do so, start creating the rubric.
  • work through the assignment again, looking for anything you could have missed the first time.  Edit the rubric further to include missing material.
  • share the rubric with as many colleagues as possible and ask them to work through the assignment as well.  This review by others will improve your assignment and the grading rubric.
  • Be open to making changes to the rubric during the grading process if you find that the students have discovered a different way of analyzing the process.

She said that it was critical to involve all of the players in making the rubric, both professors and students.  With proper use, grading rubrics are a win-win situation.

Rollins_christineChris Rollins of St. Louis University was the third speaker of this morning program.  She spoke on "Effective and Efficient Electronic Commenting."  She discussed creating a "vocabulary of grading" for common global comments, which can then be narrowed to the particular assignment and the particular student's paper.    

She uses electronic bubble comments and also uses colors to mark certain categories of errors:

  • citation errors are marked in yellow
  • grammar errors are marked in blue
  • green is the color she uses to comment on sentence
  • red is her color choice when students reach a conclusion before analyzing the paper.

She prints out these graded papers on a color printer and returns them to her students.  (If you have a student who is color blind, use different fonts such as bold, underline, or italics.)  She also includes comments to indicate to students their level of achievement in the particular assignment.

A lot of great information from this morning's program.


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