In order to ensure fairness and avoid conflicts, it is essential that you know all grading policies and follow them consistently. If you are assisting a faculty member who is the course instructor or course supervisor, communicate with him or her at the start of the semester concerning grading issues such as the following:
Do not contradict the information that the professor gives the students or suggest to students that you do not agree with the grade assigned by the professor.
If you are the course instructor, establish all grading criteria and policies before the semester begins. Inform students of these criteria and policies and follow them closely. The more straightforward, consistent, and fair you are about grading, the fewer complaints you will hear.
Ask experienced instructors about their grading criteria and policies, as well as strategies for dealing with the most common difficulties posed by grading.
If your responsibilities include discussing grades and complaints about grades with students, the following guidelines can help you be effective in this role:
Have the student make an appointment with you. This delay will give the student an opportunity to calm down and think about the errors or shortcomings that led to the grade. Ask the student to bring to the appointment any relevant materials, such as notes, quizzes, and drafts of their writing, so that you can discuss ways she or he can improve study skills or develop a more effective writing process.
Here are some suggestions of things to say that might help students develop such an understanding:
Ory, John C. and Katherine E. Ryan, Tips for Improving Testing and Grading. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993.
Woolvard, Barbara E. and Virginia Johnson Anderson. Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
© 2009, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis