Creating Grading Criteria

Establishing grading criteria can make the process of grading more efficient and consistent. Providing these criteria to students can help students perform better and prevent confusion or frustration about their grades. The syllabus is a useful location to include the information. Remember to consider the learning goals of the assignment as you develop the criteria by which you will grade. The following are questions to consider as you establish grading criteria:

  • What’s important in the assignment? (Content? Style? Creativity? Rigor? Clarity? Precision? The reasoning process or the end product?)
  • Will you be giving letter or number grades (or / - / + or credit/no credit)? For letter grades: should you include plusses and minuses? For number grades: What is the scale? What do these numbers signify?
  • Will you be giving partial or only full credit?
  • Is there a penalty for late work?
  • Decide how you will convert your rubric assessment to a grade for the assignment. 

Rubrics are useful tools to keep grades consistent because they explicitly identify grading criteria and tie grades to these criteria. They can also be shared with students to guide their process as they complete an assignment. TAs should talk with the course faculty about rubrics they develop.


Stevens, Dannelle D. and Antonia Levi (2005). Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Nilson, Linda B. (2014). Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.