Editorial – Upfront grading

Students should have access to their progress throughout the semester, so that they are not blindsided by their final grades. Some professors either don’t pass back grades in a timely fashion – if at all – or neglect to thoroughly review or explain to students why they receive the grades that appear on their transcript.

Some professors dismiss filling out rubrics and/or giving verbal or written feedback. This is problematic because it gives no clear direction on how students should improve.

Students lacking direction likely are to continue making fatal mistakes that will inevitably hurt their final scores or intellectual growth, potentially affecting their educational career by delaying their intended educational plan, requiring the need to retake the class.

“When people are trying to learn new skills, they must get some information that tells them whether or not they are doing the right thing. Learning in the classroom is no exception. Both the mastery of content and, more importantly, the mastery of how to think require trial-and-error learning,” said James Pennebaker, professor of psychology from University of Texas at Austin, according to eutopia.org.

Students should not be kept in the dark, unaware of their standing in the class due to insufficient feedback from professors.

Whether it’s a test score, in-class assignment or homework, professor-student communication is crucial for success.

“At the broadest level, students need to know if they actually have mastered the material or not. Giving them information about the ways they are studying, reading, searching for information, or answering questions can be invaluable,” Pennebaker said.

It is unacceptable for professors to put off grading or to provide vague criticism. It would not be tolerated if students put off submitting assignments, so professors should be held to higher standard and fulfill their role by producing prompt, quality critiques.

If not from the professors, who? No one – so students navigate aimlessly throughout the duration of the course without clarity.

Delays in providing grades throughout the semester can affect students, disallowing them to drop with or without a W, after tests and midterms, leaving them to receive a “W” or “F”.

Professors should be required to give thorough feedback within a week of the drop date, so students have a chance to drop, instead of wasting time and effort in a class that they can no longer pass.

Professors should be required to return scores to students in an appropriate time frame, and/or give students verbal or written feedback on their progress periodically throughout the semester.

On the flip side, feedback from students allows professors to take into consideration that some students learn in different ways.

In an article from tophat.com titled “How Real-time Feedback Helps Students Grow,” author Laura McClelland wrote that student feedback helps the teacher understand the student.

“Rather than getting a surprise at the end of the term in the form of disappointing exam results or lackluster course evaluations, conducting assessment for learning or gathering feedback throughout the term keeps you tuned in to student interests and struggles,” wrote McClelland .

The long term effect would only benefit student bt raising student success rates and improve Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs).