The question of how we evaluate students relates back to the learning objectives for a particular course and/or assignment. What will students learn from the course or assignment? How does each assignment build towards the learning objectives of the course? Accordingly, how do we evaluate students in their process of achieving those objectives?

It is crucial that students understand the learning objectives and also have a shared expectation about meeting these goals. Not only will clarifying shared goals and expectations help you better explain the grading process, it will also help students take charge of their own learning progress – giving them a clearer sense of what counts as excellent work and what areas they may need to focus their efforts on.

The following sections will outline how you can design assignments, criteria, and grading policies to help you in this preparatory stage.