Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Course Delivery > Grading and Feedback

Adopt equitable practices that avoid or mitigate implicit bias.

 Provide rubrics with criteria for success in advance of the assignments and create space to discuss them, including anonymized examples of deliverables when possible.

Examples:

  1. During class, look at and assess a sample assignment using the rubric so that students understand each component/criterion and see what a “good” design looks like and how it’s different from “fair” or “poor” designs. (Engineering
  2. After grading papers, with permission of the authors, anonymously post some of the strongest papers on Canvas. Make sure to rotate the authors posted across assignments. (Philosophy)
  3. Create rubrics for lab reports and other assignments in Canvas. After grading, Demonstrate for students how they can see the feedback from instructors in Canvas and how they can use it on the next assignment. (Chemistry)
  4. Use rubrics with several small, specific criteria rather than one large subjective percentage to help students manage their time/effort and better understand their grade. (Robotics)
  5. Create opportunities to discuss feedback, based on rubrics, with students during class or office hours, either individually or in small groups. (IDeATe)

Considerations:

  1. Rubrics increase consistency and efficiency in grading within and across graders. 
  2. Students can benefit from additional comments that go above and beyond what’s present in the rubric itself to explain how to interpret and prioritize the feedback.
  3. See example rubrics for papers, projects, oral presentations, and participation.

Use objective rubrics that measure component skills that students should demonstrate, but do not reward or penalize the perspective or opinion itself.

Examples:

  1. Ask students to include their work or reasoning behind their answers. There might be different ways of solving a problem. Convey that to the students and make sure to account for this in grading criteria. (Mathematical Sciences)
  2. Invite students to make whatever argument resonates with them. The rubric evaluates their use of evidence and course concepts to support their arguments, not the argument itself. This avoids students trying to guess or match their work to any perceptions of the instructor’s political biases. (Engineering and Public Policy) 

Considerations:

  1. Some students may be unfamiliar with rubrics or using rubrics on Canvas. Dedicating class time to showing students where to find your comments will ensure that students benefit from the feedback. 
  2. Creating rubrics on Canvas takes some front-end work, but they can readily be shared with students, tied to one’s gradebook, and reused across assignments and semesters. 
  3. Considering the learning objectives and goals of the assignment is important for creating the rubric. For example, if grammar and spelling are not priority learning objectives for a particular course, their inclusion or weighting in a rubric could impact certain students, such as second language learners, disproportionately, even though they successfully demonstrated course content.

To reduce the influence of implicit bias, grade anonymously (i.e., “blind” to student identity).

Examples:


  1. Anonymize the feedback process within any student peer review process. (Computer Science
  2. Ask students to write their name only on the first exam page. Not on every page. (Statistics and Data Science)
  3. Use technology-enhanced learning tools (e.g., Canvas, Gradescope) with features that anonymize student work while grading and providing feedback, eliminating bias regarding perceptions of student ability. (Economics)

Considerations:

  1. Copious research suggests implicit bias can unconsciously influence perceptions of student ability, regardless of one’s awareness. Assuming that graders are immune to implicit bias can negatively impact students’ grades.
  2. When courses have multiple graders, conducting a norming session prior to grading using a small random sample of student work will help to limit variation between graders. Part of this discussion can include identifying and discussing differences in grading/rubric standards or rubric interpretation across graders.

Grading exams, quizzes, homeworks one question at a time is more efficient and equitable, promoting consistency in both grading and feedback.   

Examples:

  1. In larger courses, ask TA’s to grade different questions to maximize consistency within a question. (Mathematical Sciences)
  2. Re-grade the first several students’ papers after completing grading to check for any biases or changes  in grading that evolved during the process. (Modern Languages)

Considerations:

  1. Using technology-enhanced learning tools (e.g., Canvas, Gradescope) with features that anonymize student work while grading and providing feedback can eliminate bias regarding perceptions of student ability.
  2. When courses have multiple graders, conducting a norming session prior to grading using a small random sample of student work will help to limit variation between graders. Part of this discussion can include training graders to grade one question at a time.

Provide flexibility in grading/late policies and due dates, when possible.

Examples:

  1. Consider dropping the lowest test or quiz grades. (Political Science)
  2. Allow one late assignment per semester. (Architecture)
  3. Give students the opportunity to do test corrections to earn partial credit on questions they missed. (Chemistry)

Considerations: 

  1. Learners come with varying degrees of time management, study skills, and life situations, including work and childcare while attending college. Incorporating flexibility in assignment structure and due dates can be helpful for all students balancing the stresses of academic life.
  2. Some students, such as first generation, international, or underrepresented students,  may experience additional difficulties navigating college. Referrals to student support services after they begin to struggle on assignments may not be enough to equitably support learners from diverse backgrounds.”

 

 

Eberly colleagues are here to help!

Eberly colleagues are available to help you translate strategies and examples to your particular teaching context (eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu).