Evaluating Grading Policies
Instructors can compare their grade distributions with the grade distributions for similar courses in the same department. Information about grade distributions is available through individual departments or through the CITL's Measurement and Evaluation group.
Suppose you taught one section of a 100-level course with 40 students. The course is the first in a three-course sequence which is required in the students' curriculum. Your grade distribution turned out to be:
A = 5%
B = 20%
C = 40%
D = 30%
F = 5%
When you compare your course grade distribution with that of all of the previous year's sections of the same course, you found the following grade distribution:
A = 22%
B = 30%
C = 38%
D = 9%
F = 1%
Because your grade distribution is not consistent with departmental practice, further investigation is warranted to find out if your particular class was atypical, if your expectations were too high, if the exams upon which the grades were based were too difficult for the course, etc. The fact that your grade distribution does not resemble the grades assigned by your colleagues does not necessarily indicate that your grading methods are incorrect or inappropriate. However, discrepancies that you regard as significant should suggest the need for reexamination of your grading practices in light of departmental or college policies.
Students believe that fair and explicit grading policies are an important aspect of quality instruction. The following set of ICES (Instructor and Course Evaluation System) items can be used to obtain student perceptions of course grading. The items are presented with their original ICES catalog number*.
*For additional information about using the University of Illinois ICES System, call CITL's Measurement and Evaluation staff at 217-244-4437.
101 The grading procedures for the course were:
Very fair Very unfair
104 Was the grading system for the course explained?
Yes, very well No, not at all
105 Did the instructor have a realistic definition of excellent performance?
Yes, very realistic No, very unrealistic
106 Did the instructor set too high/low grading standards for students?
Too high Too low
107 How would you characterize the instructor's grading system?
Very objective Very subjective
108 The amount of graded feedback given to me during the course was:
Quite adequate Not enough
110 Were requests for re-grading or review handled fairly?
Yes, almost always No, almost never
111 The instructor evaluated my work in a meaningful and conscientious manner.
Strongly agree Strongly disagree