Can Grading Policies Enhance Learning?

Do students “earn” grades? Absolutely. The quality of student work determines their grade. That statement may imply that faculty don’t have much of a role in the process— that we simply execute what the grading policy prescribes. But who sets up the course grading policy? Who controls it? Who has the power to change it or to refuse to change it? It’s these policies that greatly involve faculty in grades.

Are there grading policy features that promote learning? What about using teacher or peer feedback to improve an assignment before it gets a final grade? How about giving extra credit possibilities that allow a student to dig deeper into an aspect of course content that seems interesting? What do you think about giving credit for course engagement, as in regularly attending class and being there prepared, actively participating in group activities, meeting deadlines, and listening attentively to others?

Adapted from “Using Grading Policies to Promote Learning”, Maryellen Weimer, The Teaching Professor Blog, August 26, 2015.