Ask a Student – Grading Practices

Guest Blogger Caryn Burke, Class of 2022

This month the Center for Teaching and Learning has been delving into grading practices employed by instructors at Georgia Tech and how these practices effect the students in their classroomsWe recently launched the podcast, Teaching and Learning Buzz, and episode 1 explores grading strategies and their positive and negative effects on students. 

To get a perspective beyond that of Tech faculty, I asked a variety of Tech students to share how they feel the grading practices employed by their professors have benefitted or harmed them and their peers

Do You Think Teacher’s Grading Strategy Effects Your Performance in Their Class? 

  • “I certainly think grading affects performance in my class because it is a foundation of incentive to complete work which in most courses is a necessity for learning. Cameron Bennett (second-year Computer Science major) 
  • “Yes, depending on the strategy. If it was curving, I would still try in the class, but I would know that I have a little cushion and probably wouldn’t have to worry as much.” –Tanya Mbugua (second-year Public Policy major) 
  • “Yes, I do. I think for me, this especially applies to grading feedback because I feel like I always do better when my instructors explain to me what I’ve done wrong or could do better and how to improve in those things in a detailed way as opposed to not getting feedback and just receiving a grade.”- Jana Pomerantz (fourth-year Literature, Media, and Communication major) 

Which Grading Practices DYou Think Have Been the Most Beneficial for You and Why? 

  • Mastery-based courses are the best to me. They give me the opportunity to really show off my understanding of the material instead of just trying to memorize it for a test.”- Najaah Chambliss (second-year Computer Science major) 
  • “Curving has been the most beneficial grading method for me because, often times, final exams are extremely difficult or tend to be harder than regular midterms so when most of the class underperforms, the curve helps to bring our grades up.”-Amanda Hamlet (second-year Industrial Design major) 
  • “I think the most beneficial grading practice for me has been mastery-based simply because it provides incentive for me to complete work and actually understand the content without punishing me for my slower learning speeds.”-Cameron 

Which Grading Practices Do You Think Have Been the Most Harmful for You and Why? 

  • “Cumulative grading for finals has always been incredibly stressful for me. I think it’s a little unrealistic to have students study an entire semester’s worth of material for one exam, especially when that final is weighed the most.”-Amanda 
  • “As an LMC student, I haven’t really taken many curved classes, but from friends in the STEM majors, I’ve definitely heard that curving can be a bit of a stressor. It does provide a little cushion, but it also makes it so that you have to rely on the curve a little more sometimes and you start to question how much your work actually matters in the course.”-Jana 
  • “Curving has always been harmful to me. I think if the grade in a class has to be curved, it can instigate competition between students, and it feels like it can take away the value of the work you’ve put into something.”-Najaah 

It was great getting to hear from a diverse background of students and learn how the grading strategies a teacher utilizes effects their students Looking at the cost and benefits of each, you can see that there’s no strategy that’s beneficial to everyone or harmful to everyone. However, there are strategies that can be improved, and the best way to learn their effects is to ask a student. 

Camryn Burke

Student Writer for Center of Teaching and Learning

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