Grading and Assessment


Grading and assessment have historically served different functions when reviewing student performance.

Course grades provide individualized evaluation of student achievement and often include criteria beyond measuring the mastery of specific knowledge, skills, and beliefs.

Assessment, on the other hand, examines aggregated trends of student learning across courses, programs, and general education to guide improvement in teaching pedagogies and methods.

While seemingly disparate endeavors, grading and assessment can be linked as long as the learning activities directly align with larger course or program outcomes (Palomba & Banta, 1999).

Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Teaching Excellence notes that to be effectively used in assessment efforts, grades must:

  • contain clear, consistently applied criteria for meaningful student feedback and
  • distinguish between the components that measure learning and those that measure other student behaviors.

Prince George’s Community College (Maryland) has developed a centralized grading-assessment database system called “all-in-one” that provides faculty a way to grade signature assignments using faculty-created rubrics and access the information later to both compute individual grades for students as well as identify strengths and weaknesses in specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for all students. Instructional deans and faculty leaders may also access the information to track learning gaps over time and across disciplines.

Faculty cooperated extensively to identify common embedded assignments that can be used across courses, unify curriculum, and increase dialogue about course content. The process streamlines the grading and assessment process that had previously been completed in smaller, isolated groups using a set of disconnected evaluation measures.

Full discussion of the system was highlighted in an occasional paper of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.