It’s the end of the semester at my university in Germany and I am carefully working through about 140 pieces of written work which the students have submitted.
The work needs to be graded in a fair and responsible way, justifiable in case of any relating questions and transparent.
In theoretical projects some of the contributing factors are:
– Structure, good use of language, citing sources, coherent context
– Answering the innitial question or solving the problem
– Using visual materials to support the work
Although the students have been told in advance what elements make up a perfect project or exam, there is a lot of room for my own interpretation which has not been stated anywhere in advance.
The subjects I teach are theory, but in many written projects, the students had to come up with an idea, an interpretation of a subject matter or a concept. So how can one stay fair whilst using personal interpretation? How to stay away from grading “unruly” students a little worse, because they disrupted class almost every session or put their feet up on the table? How to stay objective when grading students who always stayed longer after class and politely asked questions, trying to clarify the class content? Personally, I find it requires a lot of self-reflection and self-discipline to grade fairly.
Self-reflection means noticing, when the impulse is to grade a “nice” student a little better and then disciplining oneself to stay objective. Even if this means re-evaluating all the grades one more time until it is very, very late at night.
A final important character trait for grading is to be strong-willed and not afraid of confrontation, when a unsatisfied student comes to discuss the grade. If the grade was given objectively, reasonably, justifiably then there is nothing to argue about.