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9 Tips for Grading and Providing Helpful Feedback

Practical steps you can take to make your teaching successful

Grades can be challenging for both prof and student. Here’s some help.

NOTE: CLICK the little triangles ▶ below ▶ to expand each point in the list

1. Create a rubric to help students understand what you’re evaluating 🎯三

Tell students exactly what you’re assessing. List the elements. Explain not just what you’re evaluating, but why. And how. Why are these particular aspects of a project or assignment so important? How will you assess them?

2. Here's a sample grading rubric

Here’s an example of a rubric provided by Prof Sandeep Junnarkar for a data journalism assignment. (email him if you have questions)

Sample Grading Rubric
Column 1
Column 2
Column 3
Column 4
Column 5
Your Points
Total Possible Points
Is it compelling, clean and/or does it pique curiosity?
Main subhead
Do you have one? Does it add context or summarize the piece but increase curiosity to read more?
Icon callouts
Do you have them? Do they succinctly encapsulate the meaning of their icon?
Icon text
Does the text clearly represent the icon and provide a deeper understanding of what the icon represents?
Is the content/code mobile first? Is it effectively responsive?
Did you customize the template by adding/tweaking elements of the CSS and HTML?
is it organized and commented?
If you have links, do they all work?
is the page design clean and professional in appearance?
Are the icons laid out in a way that provides an at-a-glance understanding of the piece?
Did I, the reader, learn something new from your piece?
Is the piece timely?
Required items
Do you have all the required parts (check the assignment details in the syllabus)?
Milestone deadlines
Was your pitch on time? Did you share your icons in class? Did you bring your content to class for workshopping?
There are no rows in this table
NOTE: You can add further detail to this kind of rubric. As Assoc Dean Andy Mendelson points out, you could add explanations for each of these items to further help students understand each element. “e.g. what does page design being clean and professional mean in practice? Are you talking about proper alignment, coherent organization scheme, good hierarchy of type, etc. Then you can circle items that are either there or not there (whatever works) and have space to write in just want you didn't think of in advance.”

3. Grading template: I added a to the . Feel free to use it if you need a resource for tracking grades.

How to use it: Just add your students' names and grades to the sheet. Use it for whatever assignments, quizzes or other deliverables you have. The sheet will total everything up and give you a private custom view for each student. You can use that if/when you want to review grades with individual students.
is a PDF with helpful tips by Jennifer Gonzalez, who runs the excellent blog and podcast.

4. Submitting Grades in CUNY First

How to enter grades in CUNY First Here's that illustrates how to enter your grades in CUNY First. If you want to read more from CUNY First about entering grades, here's their .
Final grades are due Dec 27 According to the , that's the final deadline.

5. Consider recording video feedback to save time and add a personal touch.

Providing detailed, personalized feedback for a full class can be exhausting and take many hours. One alternative to writing lengthy comments is to record your feedback using a screencasting tool.

6. Recording voice memo feedback is another option.

If recording video messages feels intimidating to you, you can record voice memos on your phone and email them to students. It's a way of providing personalized comments or feedback without having to write out a perfectly worded message, and without having to wrestle with your Webcam.

7. Here's how to record video feedback

With or other similar free tools, you can record yourself with your Webcam offering your feedback points for a particular student. Then send them a private link to that feedback. If you choose to, you can highlight things on screen as you're talking, to show them something you're providing feedback on.

8. Research supports the value of video and audio feedback

back up the relative impact of video feedback not just on efficiency but as a method appreciated by students that deepens students' understanding of teachers' input.

9. Focus on “feedforward” more than feedback

Provide "feedforward" comments. Focusing on how to strengthen something, with examples, can be more constructive than pointing out that something is ineffective. Some past J-School students have noted in course reviews when feedback highlighted weaknesses without guiding them toward making improvements.

Here are 10 Tips for Effective Live Teaching 👇

Reminders for Supportive, Inclusive Teaching

Schedule breaks if you’re teaching for more than an hour 🕕

- Teaching 60 minutes or less: If you’re teaching for 60 minutes or less you may not need a formal break, but it’s helpful to give people a bit of humor or some other change of pace to sustain their attention periodically.

- 90 minutes: Schedule at least one break. A five to 10-minute stretch break can work well.

- 120 minutes A 10-minute break in the middle can work well.

- 180 minutes For a three-hour session, two 10-minute breaks can work, or two mini breaks and one 15-minute break. These breaks ensure that people can focus during the rest of your time together.

Provide a safe space 👁

On any given day, some participants may be facing physical or mental challenges. Ask participants to let you know if there's something you can do to help strengthen their learning experience, like slowing down, or adjusting your camera or volume (if online). When relevant, mention a private channel they can use (such as your email, an anonymous form, or DM on Zoom/Slack) to share anything they'd prefer to communicate privately or anonymously.

Facilitate actively and with warmth 😃

Invite participation, including critiques or "devil's advocate" points. Some people may be reluctant to engage actively unless explicitly invited. When people do engage, make a point of welcoming that participation, regardless of whether it was what you were looking for or expecting.

Your reaction to participation will either open up or shut down subsequent engagement. If someone's engagement is so vigorous that it crowds out colleagues, thank them for their participation and then invite others to offer additional or alternative perspectives.

Aim for inclusiveness 🎁

To avoid making someone uncomfortable, provide an off-ramp in case they would prefer to engage in a different way or at a different moment. So to draw in those who haven't yet participated, rather than putting any one student on the spot, you can say something like "Jane, John, and Pat, I'm curious about how you see this issue, if you'd like to share a thought. Or anyone else who has thoughts on this, feel free to use the chat or un-mute and share out loud, whatever you prefer."

Here’s brief and on our .

Want to dig deeper? Some additional resources:

- Here’s a on leading engaging live sessions.

- A collection of for engaging teaching

CUNY First Grading Guide
Here are several CUNYFirst guides for seeing your class roster, entering textbooks (or affirming you don't have one), reporting attendance, and filing grades.

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