In the field of education grading is the assessment of performance by assigning a grade or score. The process customarily involves the assigning a mark of performance level; generally connected with assigning letters, A, B, C, D, and F--A being of excellent or a higher performance than B, and so on.
This process gives feedback for students, parents, and teachers as to how the student has utilized higher order thinking skills. Additionally they are used effectively as grades on report cards at the end of each quarter to evaluate the overall achievement of student performance.
Generally speaking classes have several students who are way ahead of the game while several others are way behind the curve. One element of teaching is to try to encompass the spectrum of most learning styles. It's always a good idea to check those pulses! And it might include an overall assessment as to what level to start off at. The purpose of a student’s assignment is to communicate an understanding of the content to the instructor. Creative assignments are great for interest, but understanding and application are key issues when determining grades.
The structure of the evaluation tool is just as important as the construction of the lesson plan. As teachers the nice part about exercising academic freedom is the opportunity to design our own tests. Part of designing teaching objectives is to include an efficient way to grade the testing instrument too. If the test has a teacher tearing his or her hair out over it then perhaps another way might do the job just as well. Having something creative, as a process to motivate students is always a great idea, but keep in mind that balance is the key to keep things running well between students and teachers.
Small quizzes that don’t impact the final grade are a terrific way to let a teacher know how well the instruction is going so that the lessons can be monitored and adjusted. Oftentimes aids grade these and the teacher can browse the scores to get a thumbnail sketch as to how well the rate and degree of understanding is progressing.
Subjective testing leads to subjective outcomes. Making them quantitative is a must. It’s important to put the objective of the test in writing, because it reveals a lot to the teacher as to what direction the lessons will go. It also leads to ideas of how small increments of understanding by the class can lead to success within the final objective. This process is applied to all levels of education from Kindergarten to master degree courses.
Many times teachers become frustrated with grading because there is a disparity in congruency between what is being taught and what is being tested. To have a successful test, a teacher designs the diagnostic survey, administers it and interprets the results. By being able to interpret the results quantitavely this gives the teacher a way to effectively set up improved learning strategies in the classroom. In this scenario the teacher’s objective is to have the students “write a program that would analyze a text and then print out all the proper nouns in said text and a count of how many times each noun appeared” by adding that ‘finding Ishmael from Moby Dick will cut it’ adds a goal for the student to shoot for but maybe it’s too general for effectively interpreting the results. This might be the time to sit down and re write an objective.
Grading could be based upon how times a particular part of speech that occurs more often in text, like maybe the article the. To refine the grading process and evaluate the rate of student success in a more solid structure the teacher could assign the text the students use as the first of two tests. This makes the grading and testing concrete. It also offers an immediate opportunity for a second chance and the student can redeem their efforts. As an extremely simplified example the assigned text could be:
Grading is the process of sorting fish by size, usually with some sort of screen or cage. This is necessary to prevent cannibalism in dense populations. It also allows the fish culturist to apply feed at the appropriate rates since all the fish in a given tank will be roughly the same weight after grading. 1
The processing sequence starts from grading the fish by species and size. Sorting by species or on the basis of freshness and physical damage are still manual processes, but grading of fish by size is easily done with mechanical equipment. Mechanical graders yield better sorting ... 2
In the sample the
occurs eight times out of 100 words in this quote. To get 100% the program has to identify all eight. Seven out of eight is an 88%, six out of eight is 75% and so on. If the majority of the students are scoring at 88% and above then the teacher may want to see how the program they created would analyze a text of their own choosing. The feedback originates from the student and their results, while concrete enough to easily grade. It eliminates making any kind of judgmental comments and instead focuses both the teacher and student on the mechanics of the program and what could have gone wrong.
This is where real teaching and learning can occur. Students who aren’t satisfied with their results are going to learn a lot from their mistakes, may look at the others work to see how they can improve and when it comes to future performance most likely do better. Students know exactly where they went wrong and the teacher's actions are congruent to the objective. If a significant number of students are scoring below 88% that’s a red flag. It would be best if the teacher were to review the lesson goals, learning outcomes and make sure the objectives are measurable, observable, definable and understandable.
The suggestion of starting with a known outcome for students on a test is useful so that when things go wrong for those that are trying to catch up, both the student and teacher know what went wrong; this levels the playing field and provides a jumping off point for most of the class.
Once a student knows he or she has a solid foundation in the skill being taught then a teacher gets challenging the students with fuzzy descriptions, creativity so that they can apply critical thinking skills. That's where all the fun begins! It moves toward a more complete learning process. One cannot be successful without the other. Omitting the creative problem solving process would be a disappointment to everyone. Here is a student brimming full of new knowledge and then no chance see the payoff of using it successfully
If a student is unhappy with their grade or the outcome of what they learned and says something in his or her review the teacher has ample evidence that they were provided with a solid foundation plus the opportunity to use what they learned.
Grading to me has always been a great reward in my chosen profession because I looked forward to seeing the results of my teaching efforts. It’s an opportunity to communicate one on one with a student. By welcoming student reviews that are typically offered at the end of each semester there is enough time over the break to read what the students have to say and evaluate lesson plans and tests to see where they can improve the overall success rate of what happens in the classroom.
I would encourage any teacher who finds grading frustrating to consider taking a course at a university or college of education that includes a major focus on the issues of grading. There are a great variety of tools and methods available that may fit your needs and it can go a long way towards making the job more enjoyable.
1 Hatchery Glossary:
Heintz, Susie,"Essential Elements of Instruction." Tucson,Arizona
1991(Lecture presented at Flowing Wells Institute For Teacher Renewal and Growth.)
Pregent ,Richard. Charting Your Course: How to Prepare to Teach More Effectively, 2000.
2 Preliminary processing of freshwater fish: