Teaching & Learning


Making Judgements and Assigning Grades

When you award a grade for a student's performance in an assessment task, you use your professional judgment to make decisions. How you arrive at these final judgments must be as manageable for you as possible. These judgments also need to be valid and reliable. Your judgments are underpinned by the principle that 'assessment practices must be fair, transparent and equitable' by ensuring that students know in advance how you arrive at these grades.

Using the rubric

When marking a task with criteria and standards descriptors (a rubric), the assigning of a grade for each criterion should be relatively straightforward, as the quality of the student's performance can be compared with the descriptions for each grade standard. When making the comparison, make a holistic judgment about the standard that mostly matches, or is equivalent to, the way the student has demonstrated what they know, understand or are able to do. It is important to note here that students sometimes demonstrate achievement of a criterion in a way that you (or the writer of the descriptors) did not expect, and which is therefore not described within any of the standards. When this occurs you will need to go back to the criterion and the ILO it seeks to measure, and use your professional judgement to determine the standard the student has demonstrated achievement of. Standards descriptors should not be used in a restrictive way (i.e., used to determine that a student cannot be awarded a standard because their work does not exactly matchthe description).

Once you have decided that a student has achieved a particular standard (grade) for each criterion, then you have to have a way of coming up with an overall grade for the task, and later for the unit. Grading a task or a unit therefore requires a way of combining the standards achieved for each criterion to determine an overall grade (and mark). No matter which approach you use, results must be moderated to ensure comparability of judgments.

Approaches to determining an overall grade

There are three common approaches which can be used individually or in combination. If you are having difficulty coming to an overall grade for a task or unit, confirm or change your judgments by re-examining the student's actual responses.

1.  Profiling results
This involves making an on-balance judgment that requires looking at the general pattern of achievement in the criteria across the task. It can be useful when taking this approach to note where in a grade standard for each criterion the student demonstrated achievement (i.e., 'high pass', 'low credit', etc.). If you intend to take this approach, and consider some criteria more important than others, it is important that this is clearly communicated to students at the same time as providing them with the rubric.
2.  Predetermined rules
This involves setting rules for how grades for each criterion are combined to reach an overall grade for a task or a unit. Rules can take account of differently weighted criteria and can include the use of algorithms.
3.  Assigning marks
This involves setting mark distributions for each grade, criterion, and task (based on the University's prescribed percentage distribution for awarding of HD to NN grades). The Rubrics and Grades tools in MyLO make this a relatively straightforward option. When taking this approach, it is important that you first identify the grade standard that the student has demonstrated for a criterion, and then decide where (low, mid, high) in that grade the work sits to determine a mark/score to assign for the criterion.

Students need to be informed at the start of the semester of the method that will be used in your unit.

Desktop Guides with step-by-step instructions for the set-up and use of a number of tools in MyLO for assessment purposes can be found by searching in the MyLO Staff Guides - try searching using the key word 'assessment' or other related terms.