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Why is this important?

Grades have different meanings, depending on the type of class you’re teaching and the level of your students. A ‘C’ does not mean exactly the same thing in every class, so it’s important to take context into account when assigning grades and communicating feedback to your students. For example, what is ‘C’ work for a freshman will be — and should be — quite different from the ‘C’ work of a graduating senior.

Grading for the level of your students

As the below chart describes,

  • When a beginning student receives an ‘C,’ it means that the student has “basic familiarity with the skills” and is “ready to move ahead, but may be at risk of falling behind as skills become more complex.”
  • In contrast, for a graduating senior a ‘C’ means that the student’s work “meets minimum department standards” and “meets entry-level industry standards.”

 

What does
an A mean?

What does
a B mean?

What does
a C mean?

What does
a D mean?

Beginners

Individual
assignments

Mastered the skills
taught.

May benefit from
additional challenges.

Good grasp of skills,
although weak in a
few areas.

Ready to move ahead

Basic familiarity with
the skills.

Ready to move
ahead, but may be at
risk of falling behind
as skills become
more complex.

Not ready to move
ahead to more
complex skills.

End of
semester
projects

Midpoints

Client would pay for
the product and
would offer fulltime
employment.

Client would pay for
the product and
would offer
freelance work.

Client is satisfied
with the product.

Client would not pay
for the product.

Advanced
students

End of
semester or
program

Exceed department
standards.

Solidly meets
industry standards.

Solidly meets
department
standards.

Needs improvement
to meet industry
standards.

Meets minimum
department
standards.

Meets entry-level
industry standards.

Below department
standards.

Adding context to your rubrics

Adding information about the meaning of the various grades to your rubric can help contextualize the grades you assign for your students. For example, if you were teaching a freshman class on cookie- baking, you could add the “Beginners” contextual information to your grading rubric — like this:

Assignment: Bake one dozen chocolate chip cookies using an original recipe.

 

Excellent (A)
You have mastered
the skills taught
and may benefit
from additional
challenges.

Good (B)
You have a good
grasp of skills,
although weak in a
few areas. You are
ready to move
ahead.

Acceptable (C)
You have a basic
familiarity with the
skills. You are
ready to move
ahead — but may be
at risk of falling
behind as skills
become more
complex.

Unacceptable (D)
You are not yet
ready to move
ahead to more
complex skills.

No
work to
evaluate
(F)

Number of
Chips

chocolate chip
in every bite

chips in about
75% of bites

chocolate in
50% of bites

chocolate in less
than 50% of bites

 

Texture

chewy

chewy in middle,
crisp on edges

texture either
crispy/crunchy or
50% uncooked

texture resembles
a dog biscuit

 

Color

golden brown

either light from
undercooking or
light from being
25% raw

either dark brown
from overcooking
or light from
undercooking

burned

 

Taste

home-baked taste

quality store-
bought taste

tasteless

store-bought flavor,
preservative
aftertaste; stale,
hard, chalky

 

Richness

rich, creamy,
high-fat flavor

medium fat
contents

low-fat contents

nonfat contents

 

Credit: Created by Rachel Levin, Faculty Development

Learn more

For more information on using rubrics and grading effectively, you can review our online workshop on "What & How to Grade"
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