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