Sunday Panel: Best Advice for Grading Projects

profile pic2Tara, Science in the City

I think in grading projects it is very important to have clear criteria ahead of time, and to communicate that to the students. It could be in the form of a rubric, checklist, etc, but should allow for clarity regarding what is being evaluated, and how the various things are weighted. Ideally, a student could use it to evaluate his or her own work before submitting it, and use it to improve his or her own work..Sunday Panel Sticky



Reduce the amount of projects to grade from the get-go by having students complete projects in collaborative pairs or groups.  Would you rather 28 projects or 7 projects to grade?  I also like to build in check points into my projects for two purposes: to ensure students are progressing through the project and also to get a little pre-grading in.
Grading projects became more fun and functional when I negotiated assessment criteria with students. One student described it this way: “It’s  a bit like we grade our own work.” We first articulate a common learning target that must be met.  Typically student tasks draw on several intelligences and mandated rubric criteria might include: 1).  Accurate research 2). Real life application; 3). Key problem addressed; 4). Intelligences engaged; 5). Umbrella question posed 6). Due date completion. Students then add their one or two criteria to our list.  Once agreed upon, these criteria double as student action guides. The results? With assessment tools aligned to learning guides and negotiated in advance, projects seem to assess themselves. My work is made easier – and the students rarely question their grades after. My advice? Keep it simple, negotiate in advance and engage students.
CDickson Profile Pic
It’s all about rubrics.  I put it right on the student instruction sheet, often in lieu of writing out “student” requirements.  It’s clear, from the start, column 1, here is what I’m expected of you.  Here is the deduction in points if you miss the requirements in these increments.  Some of my students use it to determine what minimum effort they have to put forth, but they would try that anyway– at least this way they are not missing key requirements (gambling) nor are they at my desk arguing about “what if I just did this or that?”  I can color the rubric to grade, but add notes.  Depending on the rubric, I can often recycle core parts of it for the next project, replacing project-specific verbage in one or two rows of the rubric table, saving myself more work.  When I discovered rubrics, it made things so much better for ease of grading and for communicating to students what was expected.

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