Yanfen Li, Philip A. Jensen, Paul Anthony Jensen, Karin Jensen
Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27951
Publication year: 2017

Large introductory laboratory courses are often assessed with a large number of written assignments requiring multiple graders. Consistency between graders for lab reports is an important issue for both students and instructors in order to maintain accuracy and fairness. This challenge is enhanced by the need for graduate student teaching assistants who often receive limited instruction on grading and have little or no experience grading technical writing documents. When presented with detailed rubrics, graders have preconceived notions about the definitions of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” or similar descriptors and how these evaluations equate to a numeric grade. Even detailed rubrics that provide point designations for each item can result in inconsistent grading if graders have a preconceived notion of the overall score range that a report should fall into. To address these challenges, we propose using a “blinded” rubric where graders are encouraged to assess assignments only by qualitative descriptions on a rubric and not assign quantitative scores or points. Pre-assigned point designations for each statement on the rubric are then applied after the grader has evaluated all the reports. We hypothesize that this process will increase inter-grader consistency, increase grader confidence in evaluating work, and reduce overall grading time. We piloted this approach in a sophomore bioengineering laboratory course that employed three graduate student teaching assistants. Our preliminary results indicate that grader consistency increased using the blinded rubric system. Graders also reported greater confidence in their assessments. Further, graders reported spending less time grading assignments when they were asked only to select qualitative statements and not assign quantitative point values for their selection on the rubric. We are currently assessing student perceptions of this grading process, including fairness of the system and whether or not blinding graders to the initial point designations will encourage student-grader conversations to focus on the evaluations instead of points deducted.