Purposes > Generate grades

Grades or marks provide a condensed summary of learner performance. They are collected and weighted within and across units to provide an account of a learner’s overall performance in a program of study. This is commonly called summative assessment. Marks or grades contribute to decisions about progression to later units and to learners’ overall success and failure. Students should be judged solely against explicit learning outcomes and standards of performance. Judgements must avoid comparing learners with each other as this practice can lead to the undermining of academic standards. While it has been common to provide percentage marks in some situations, care must be taken to avoid marking schemes that generate spurious levels of accuracy. Care must also be taken in adding marks and grades in ways that could permit students to pass a unit without having met all the learning outcomes and addressed threshold standards. Learners are sensitive to a lack of fairness and consistency and otherwise good assessment practices can be undermined by a lack of attention to this.

Assessment considerations:

  • What features of the assessment task should be graded?
  • What form of grades should be used? How are these to be linked to learning outcomes and criteria for performance?
  • How can standards for grading be made explicit?
  • How should different assessment activities within the same unit be weighted?
  • How will you ensure that grades or marks are not provided to a finer level of accuracy than each task allows?
  • How will you ensure that marking is consistent across all learners and all those doing the marking? Is a marking rubric appropriate for each task?

Also refer to:

Context > Institutional assessment principles and policies

Outcomes > Unit/module learning outcomes

Outcomes > Overall program learning outcomes

Outcomes > Professional requirements

Tasks > Rationale

Tasks > Criteria for successful completion

Tasks > Identifying which tasks are graded

Educator experiences

Using grades not percentages

My view is that students should only be graded on something they have already had a chance to practice, and preferably get feedback on. While this is not possible all the time, I find it can be done for all the major learning outcomes. What irritates me is that my uni expects us to record percentage points in the marking sheets we have to return. I say you can’t do this for most assignments and I’m not prepared to waste my time agonising over a percentage here and a percentage there and have to justify the impossible to students who query them. So, I inform students that I just use the four common passing grades and link them to criteria. I only submit results as grades. – Education lecturer

Linking grades to outcomes and criteriaWhen we actually implement these subjects, I like to flesh out those assessment criteria that are currently in the subject outline as a series of bullet points; actually flesh that out into more of a comprehensive evaluation rubric to provide students, but also our tutors and teachers, with a better understanding of what does that line in the subject outline mean. So, my general practice is that, at the subject outline level, we usually provide some clear criteria but it’s like in a range of bullet points, and then when I implement that, those bullet points get turned into an evaluation rubric to say, “What does that criterion look like at a HD level, and what would it look like at a pass level?” – Arts lecturer