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Feedback and Grading: Values-Aligned Grading


Values-based grading is an educational assessment approach where grading practices are deliberately aligned with the pedagogical values and core educational principles of an instructor. This method ensures that the way students are assessed and graded directly supports and reinforces the learning goals deemed most crucial to the educational experience. For instance, if fostering critical thinking is a key pedagogical value, assessments might be designed to evaluate students' abilities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information rather than simply recalling facts.

For college faculty, values-based grading offers several significant advantages. Firstly, it promotes consistency between teaching objectives and assessment methods, ensuring that students are being evaluated on the skills and knowledge that are most valued in their courses. This alignment helps clarify for students what is important in their learning and what criteria they are expected to meet, thus enhancing transparency and fairness in grading. Secondly, values-based grading can deepen student engagement by linking assessments more closely to real-world applications and core professional competencies, thereby making learning more relevant and motivating. Lastly, this approach can foster a richer educational environment where students are encouraged to develop the particular strengths and qualities that align with the course's broader educational goals, contributing to a more holistic and impactful learning experience.


What Is the Purpose of Grades? Aligning Your Grading Practices with Your Pedagogical Values

Do your grading practices accurately reflect what you believe about teaching and learning? Are there approaches that might be a better fit for your pedagogical goals?

As educators, it's imperative to continually reflect on whether our grading practices align with our educational beliefs and pedagogical values. Such reflection helps ensure that our assessments do not merely measure knowledge but also support broader educational goals, like critical thinking, creativity, and personal growth. This commitment to alignment demands a thoughtful examination of the underlying values and beliefs that guide our grading strategies.


Before You Begin Grading - USC Center for Teaching Excellence
Grading is a major concern for many new teachers and a lot of more experienced ones as well. Our perceptions of grading practices are influenced largely by our own experiences with grades. We all have our own ideas of how grades should be assigned, and what they should tell us about the student's performance. Given all that grades do and represent, they are a source of anxiety for students and often seem to inhibit enthusiasm for learning for its own sake.  Thoughtfully reflecting on the aspects of grading below will not eliminate the stress of grading for instructors, but it will decrease that stress and make the process of grading seem less arbitrary — to instructors and students alike. 

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  • Last Updated: May 2, 2024 1:40 PM
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