STLF Field Notes: Clarifying requirements and expectations in assessment

Getting students to understand the requirements and expectations for assessment can be problematic, no matter how clear we think the instructions are. One approach that can help communicate this information to students is to have them take the grading rubric (a good first step in and of itself! See a previous post on this topic) and use it to grade an example assignment. 

This practice has been introduced in Biology 140, where students complete a number of written assignments throughout the term. After observing one of the TAs Xinxin Xue taking the initiative in her sections last term, instructor Kathy Nomme tried the approach in her own classes. Both Xinxin and Kathy (and a number of other instructors) had positive experiences when getting their students to grade an example Discussion assignment using the grading rubric. Using the rubric in this manner increases its visibility to students, and makes students more aware of it as a resource for them to use to evaluate their own work prior to submission. This process can also highlight to students areas where they may wish to seek clarification regarding the assignment requirements.

Box 1 grading rubric field notes

This term, the practice has been implemented across all sections and broadened to include other assignments during the term. Good work Biology 140!