Quick Grading Poll 11

The Buckets by Greg Cravens

The Buckets by Greg Cravens

The Buckets by Greg Cravens

This comic was from yesterday and coincidentally, before I saw this comic, a similar discussion came up with my students. I could not find an easy WordPress plugin for polling so we will just have to use the comments, but I want to ask, what view do you have about grading?

The question is, do you start with this teacher’s position that students start with “a clean slate” and they earn their marks? Or do you take the other view that students start with “100” and the teacher “takes away” points during the course of the semester? 

I think that the perspective one has makes a big difference to our perception and experience in a class, whether student or teacher.



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11 thoughts on “Quick Grading Poll

  • AKMA

    Middling slate; I operate on the assumption that mystudents are literate, capable, and energetic — so I work on the premise that they’ll earn a middling grade (B/C, Second Class Hons). The grade is then based on an average of actual marks received — which reflects more the former than latter.

  • Alison CJ

    great question…I was surprised to hear a student ask a few years ago why I “docked” his grade on a project. It caused me to include an explanation of my grading philosophy in my syllabus:
    “In my mind, grading an essay isn’t about slashing away at the grade each time I find an “error.” Writers work their way up to a grade, not down to one, by building a well-crafted, intelligent, and clear argument that meets the goals of the assignment.”

  • Marie H

    I think it depends on what is being graded.

    I think everyone is very likely to agree that an overall class grade is a “clean slate” deal, where you build your grade from the bottom up.

    When it comes to a particular assignment grade, however, is where I see the contention. Particularly when it comes to English teachers, you turn in an assignment and from there a teacher might “take away” points for grammar and spelling errors, etc. While not all teachers do this, I have had at least one and have heard from many peers that they’ve had teachers/professors who’ve done it that way. It’s anecdotal evidence, of course, but I would say that this method of “taking away” points happens most frequently in large, gen ed., and/or entrance-to-major-required courses.

    • Christian Brady Post author

      Marie – I can see what you are saying about essays (grammar and what not). It is the mindset that such an approach engenders that I think can be problematic. As Jordanna said, students earn grades, they are not given them.

      It may seem a subtle and semantical difference, but I think the perspective can have a big impact.

      • Marie H

        Oh, I completely agree that approaching assignments either from a “clean slate” or “take away” perspective has an impact. What I was trying to do was distinguish between that mindset in terms of overall grade and individual assignment grades.

        I agree with Jordanna and Alison CJ that the ideal perspective should be a clean slate. Unfortunately, especially in gen eds and things like freshman comp, professors tend to approach with the “take away” method.

  • James Endres Howell

    Here’s the statement in my syllabi: “You earn your grade by earning points. A spreadsheet assigns your grade. I am only the accountant.”

    Joe Grabowski taught the organic chemistry sequence I took at Pitt 1995/96. I’ll never forget what he said: “The exam is an Easter Egg hunt for points. Don’t miss a chance to show me anything you know.”