Use of Graders (Policy and Procedure)
Assigning work to students (in the context of a degree credit course) that will be formally evaluated and will play a role in assigning a course grade requires:
- that the assigned work be predicated on the overall learning objectives for the course;
- that the expectations to be met by students be clearly communicated; and
- that the work be evaluated against those expressed expectations in an accurate manner.
It is also the case the evaluations of assigned work play an important role in providing feedback to students on the strengths and shortcomings of their work. To this end, useful commentary and timely feedback are important in the evaluation process.
- Instructors are responsible for setting graded requirements for their courses. These requirements should be consistent with the objectives of the course, as proposed to and approved by the Faculty Council. In cases of multiple section courses, these graded elements should also be consistent, in any given term, with the graded elements in other sections of the same course.
- Graders or markers can be used to reduce an instructor’s grading workload under certain circumstances (elaborated below) and to provide more timely feedback to students. However, the instructor remains the final arbiter of disputes over grading (with the student having the formal grade appeal process open if they can demonstrate grounds). Even in cases where the grading task is delegated to a grader, the responsibility for responding to disputed grades rests with the instructor.
- In general, the marking and grading done by graders should either have very unambiguous expectations – that is, a limited amount of subjectivity in the assessment of the student work, OR – where greater subjective judgement is required in grading and a grader is used – a very specific grading protocol created by the instructor is to be provided to and used by the marker in evaluating student work.
The following operational policies should be followed for all graduate and undergraduate courses. Exceptions require the explicit endorsement from the area coordinator/program director, with a written confirmation of the exception being sent to the Executive Officer and the Associate Dean Academic.
- Assignments/projects worth more than 30% of the course grade and examinations are normally to be graded by the Course Instructor. In cases where assigned work of this scale is graded by graders, an explanation from the instructor should be provided. (Portions of examinations for which a detailed marking regime can be provided can be marked by graders but must reviewed by the Course Instructor.)
- The use of a grader and the number of work hours are to be approved by the Area Coordinator at the start of each term (forms posted below). Given the costs and pedagogical concerns involved, it is important to be thoughtful about use of graders.
- The instructor should set up an explicit plan for students’ queries about marks. Regardless of who marked the student work the instructor is responsible for the evaluation of academic work, and is the eventual arbiter of any disputed mark.
- The normal maximum number of (grader) hours available per course – for those courses using graders – is in the range of 20-40 hours, with larger sections generally being awarded more hours than smaller sections. Sections with 25 or fewer students will generally not be allocated grading funds.
- Documentation to support use of graders can be found below. Instructors and Graders must sign the “Grader Payment Form” to verify the hours worked (see below).
Procedures for Instructors
- Fill out the “Grader Request Form” (see below) with the estimated work hours. Submit the form to the area Administrative Assistant at the start of each term. The Area Coordinator will review and approve requests. For courses where there are multiple sections and a course coordinator, generally the grading requests should be channeled through the course coordinator to assure consistency across sections. The Associate Dean will sign requests for courses taught by Area Coordinators.
- Once a request has been approved, the instructor is responsible for determining that an individual is qualified to grade the students’ work. (In general, an individual should not be marking a course if they are a student in the same degree program as the students whose work is being assessed. Any exceptions should be infrequent and should be cleared in advance with the area coordinator or program director.)
- A written set of grading guidelines or protocols must be prepared by the instructor to guide the grader(s). These guidelines must be available if requested in cases where a grade appeal results.
- Instructors should assure that the Grader reports hours worked to the instructor using the “Grader Payment Form” (see below). The form must be signed by both the grader and instructor to authorize payment. Please submit the form through the area (or program) Administrative Assistant.
Procedures for Administrative Assistants