Developing Fair, Consistent, and Transparent Grading Practices

In this module, faculty learn to implement research-based grading practices aligned to their grading philosophy and course content. In addition, the module includes information on setting grading policies for late assignments and extra credit and effectively communicating grading practices to students.

To satisfy the module requirements, practicing faculty must apply at least one technique, such as sharing their grading policy with students, assigning different values to assignments based on learning opportunities, or offering extra credit for improved learning.

This module is one of five modules under ACUE’s unit on Assessing to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning.

Advising Subject Matter Experts

Trudy Banta
Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Academic Planning and Evaluation
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis


Virginia Anderson
Professor Emerita, Biological Sciences
Towson University


Linda Nilson
Founding Director, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation
Clemson University

Module References

Banta, T. W. (2003). Portfolio assessment: Uses, cases, scoring, and impact. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Brookhart, S. M. (1999). The art and science of classroom assessment: The missing part of pedagogy. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 27(1).

Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Determining a grading system for your course. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Dominowski, R. L. (2001). Teaching undergraduates. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Gronlund, N. E., & Waugh, C. K. (2008). Assessment of student achievement (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Illinois State University, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. (n.d.). Design your course: Module 9: Developing a grading system. Retrieved from

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nilson, L. B. (2014). Specifications grading: Restoring rigor, motivating students, and saving faculty time. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Nilson, L. B. (in press). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Packard, E. (2008). Proactive policies: Experts weigh in on the administrative side of classroom teaching. Retrieved from

Payne, D. A. (2003). Applied educational assessment (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson.

Shepard, L. A. (2006). Classroom assessment. In R. L. Brennan (Ed.), Educational measurement
(4th ed.). Westport, CT: American Council on Education.

Walvoord, B. E., & Anderson, V. J. (2009). Effective grading: A tool for learning and assessment in college (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Weimer, M., (2011, July 20). Revisiting extra credit policies [Blog post]. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from