Feedback is one of the most critical parts of the learning process. This section provides an overview on evaluating your students’ work and managing your grades and feedback with technologies supported by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and Learning Innovation.

Communicating before and after an assignment

Start with clear instructions, a direct assignment prompt and grading criteria. Explicit instructions reduce confusion and the number of emails that you may receive from your students requesting clarification on an assignment. Your assignment instructions should detail:

  • Length requirements
  • Formatting requirements
  • Expectations of style, voice and tone for writing assignments
  • Acceptable structure for reference citations
  • Due date(s)
  • Technology requirements needed for the assignment
  • Description of the measures used to evaluate success

Offer meaningful feedback and a timely response when grading. There are many ways to provide feedback to students on submitted work. Regardless of the grading strategy and tool that you choose, there are a few best practices to consider when providing student feedback:

  1. Feedback should be prompt. Send feedback as soon as possible after the assignment to give students an adequate amount of time to reflect before moving on to the next assignment.
  2. Feedback should be equitable. Rubrics can help ensure that students are receiving consistent feedback for similar work. 
  3. Feedback should be formative. Meaningful feedback focuses on students’ strengths and shares constructive areas to further develop their skills.

> Rethinking Student Feedback (Duke University)

Avoid using curves to grade

We recommend avoiding curves for both individual assignments and final course grades. There are several downsides to curves that will negatively impact your pedagogy:

Rather than using curves, you can use some of the feedback strategies we suggest below. In addition to giving specific feedback to students, try to “identify why students performed poorly and address this more specifically.” For example, “if large numbers of students performed poorly on particular exam questions, providing opportunities for students to revisit, revise, and resubmit those answers for some credit would likely achieve the goal of not having large numbers of students fail” (Jeffrey Schinske and Kimberly Tanner).

Reducing bias in grading

Assess student work using inclusive practices by grading blind. Blind grading removes any potential positive or negative bias from an individual’s work. However, blind grading can also make it difficult to address specific students’ needs and provide individualized support. Consider the needs of your students and use blind grading when appropriate.

> Blind Grading (Yale University)
> Using anonymous grading in Sakai

Using rubrics to grade consistently

Create customized rubrics for both your Sakai and Gradescope Assignments. A well-designed rubric:

  • Provides clear criteria for success that help students produce better work and instructors to be consistent with grading.
  • Points out specific areas for students to address in future assignments.
  • Allows for consistency in grading and more meaningful feedback.

> Using Rubrics (Cornell University)
> How do I add a rubric to my site?
> How do I add a rubric to an assignment in Sakai? 
> How do I use a rubric in Gradescope?

Managing student submissions

Use Sakai Gradebook to manage student submissions and grades. In the Gradebook, you can enter and manage student grades and feedback for your course in an easy-to-use spreadsheet format. Some tools in Sakai, such as Assignments, Tests & Quizzes or Forums, either automatically grade assessments or automatically populate your manually entered grades into the Gradebook. Grades that are automatically populated from a Sakai tool will show up with a “lock” icon.  If you want to change or override the grade, you need to go to the tool where the grade came from.

You can also create columns in the Gradebook to manually enter grades and organize grades into categories. Categories can be used to assign weighted grades to student work and automatically drop grades in a specific category. All grades can be exported to a CSV file to keep track outside of Sakai.

> An Intro into Grading in Sakai (Video)
> How do I set up the Sakai Gradebook? 
> How do I add items to the Sakai Garbed?
> How do I enter and edit grades in the Sakai Gradebook?

Next Steps

  • Review What assessment tools are available? to select the appropriate tool(s) for grading your students’ work.
  • Join us for Office Hours to ask specific questions and to receive additional one-on-one support. No registration is needed, just join anytime during the listed hours.