How I Grade

Grading Essay Questions

What Grades Mean

  1. Outstanding in all ways. Shows a knowledge of the vocabulary required to answer the question and how to wield that vocabulary in developing an answer. Answer is comprehensive.
  2. Answer that shows knowledge of the subject matter of the question. Also demonstrates an ability to use the vocabulary related to the question. Can generate insight over and above what may have been talked about explicitly in class.
  3. The answer I would expect from the average student having worked with the material. Some ability to use vocabulary related to the question and a familiarity with the material.
  4. Some hint of familiarity with the material of the course including vocabulary and concepts. A better answer than someone would provide who had never had the course.

Numbers and Letters

  1. 90 and above
  2. 80-89
  3. 70-79
  4. 60-69

Grading Journals or Abstracts

Sometimes in classes I have students do journals or prepare abstracts through the semester to provide themselves quality notes to study in preparation for examinations and to better prepare them for class discussion. As extra encouragement for doing these, I may assign a portion of the grade to the journals or abstracts. Typically, in such cases I will pick these up on a certain number of unannounced days each semester and assign a grade of "S" or "U" to each. Because I seek to encourage you to do these every day, I do not announce in advance when I will collect the assignments.

An "S"/"U" scale is not the same as an A/F scale. The S grade means satisfactory. It means that you are doing at least the minimal necessary in reading the material and applying it properly and actively.

Because (1) I realize everyone may have a bad day now and then when they cannot keep up the prompt day-to-day grind, (2) because I realize there may be occasional reasons you cannot be in class, and (3) because the documentation requirement for excused absences can be onerous for you and for me in cases where the specific assignment is a small part of the grade, I use a different method for addressing excused absences on the journal or abstract. Typically, I will collect these seven times during the semester but use your five best grades.

Calculating your Semester Grade

I use the following procedure in calculating your final grade:

Step 1: All letter grades are translated into equivalent numbers on the following scale: A = 11; A- = 10; B+ = 9; B = 8; B- = 7; C+ = 6; C = 5; C- = 4; D+ = 3; D = 2; D- = 1; F = 0.

Step 2: I have provided you with a weighting for each grade. The grade number value in step 1 is multiplied by the weighting factor.

Step 3: These weighted values for the grades are added together. This gives me an overall numeric value for your work.

Step 4: I translate the numeric value back into the scale in step 1. I round to the nearest number, rounding up at .5.

Step 5: I then do a survey of your overall grades and do corrections. If I find, for example, that you were a B student throughout the semester but received an F on one assignment, I will tend to discount the aberrant grade and lift you a bit on the grading scale. If the general progression of your grades are toward improvement, I will tend to lift you a bit on the grading scale. And, of course, it works the opposite way as well.

Example: Suppose a student has two midterm exams worth 20 percent each with grades of B on both; a semester paper worth 20 percent with an A-; a journal assignment worth 10 percent with a grade of C; and a Final exam worth 30 percent with a grade of C+. The formula would be:

(.2*8) + (.2*8) + (.2*10) + (.1*5) + (.3*6) = 1.6 + 1.6 + 2.0 + 0.5 + 1.8 = 7.5

which would round up to an 8 which is a B.

Late Assignments and Incompletes