Grading Final Examinations and Projects

By Robyn Shevory and Rod Lucero

Ideally, final examination and project grades reflect students’ progress and achievement through the course of the semester.  They should be a direct reflection of individual student growth and development.

When grading final exams and projects, it is important to consider student progress in addition to student achievement.  Grading and evaluation should place student learning at its center.

Things to Keep in Mind

Final evaluations must be aligned with assigned material, and students must be made aware of your individual grading method.

  • At this point in the semester, your students have most likely become familiar with your style of assessment and evaluation, but it is still useful to remind them of your grading structure. 
  • Be consistent when grading final exams and ensure that your students will not be surprised. 
    • For example, if your students are used to receiving a letter grade based on the number questions they answered correctly, they will be distressed to learn that in this instance they will be graded on a curve based on the success of their fellow classmates. 
  • Grading methods must be clear from the beginning as stated in your syllabus.


Rubrics can be extremely helpful when assessing student performance on final examinations and projects.  A rubric is a grading guide developed for a specific assignment or evaluation. 

  • An effective rubric offers a breakdown of what you, the professor, expect your students to achieve for a particular assignment. 
    • It may be useful to design a classroom activity in which your students create their own rubric relating to final projects and exams.  This will allow students to experience a sense of agency and help them to better understand the work and process involved in assessment and evaluation.

Rubrics can be designed in a number of ways, each equally effective.

  • Formats include lists, paragraphs, grids, and charts.
    • These formats are similar in that they are designed to describe various attributes of a specific assignment according to levels of quality.
There are a number of helpful websites to assist you in designing a rubric.

Rubrics must be specific, measurable, and focused. 

  • Vague guidelines do not offer much guidance and can leave students confused and discouraged. 
  • It is important to remember that rubrics are not only the tool you employ to grade student work but also the means by which students understand their grade and your evaluation. 
  • Rubrics are a guide for students, and when used effectively, they can assist both the professor and the student. 
    • In other words, a successful rubric not only helps you grade well but also helps you communicate to students the standards and expectations of the individual assignment.


 Lieberg, Carolyn. Teaching Your First College Class. United States of America: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2008. Print.


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