Toward More Process-Oriented Grading

I am continually evaluating my teaching methods and procedures. It’s difficult to be critically self-reflective in a constructive way without spending all my time second-guessing myself. It’s a balancing act. Most times it’s a matter of saying, “that’s okay, you can improve this without feeling stupid about the way you were doing it earlier.”

I’m rethinking my grading policy in the art class. I think last semester I was too product-oriented. I want to be more process-oriented. Grading art at all is a tricky thing to do.

For example, with this Art Storage Box project, my grading would have been like this last semester: 5 points per day for each day of production, then maybe 15 points possible for the final product.  Certain elements are usually required of every project (such as “create a full range of values” or “create pattern and rhythm”.) If the project wasn’t finished by the due date, the student would not receive full credit.

Now, I’m giving a possible 10 points per day, and the bulk of the grade will depend on the student working toward finishing the required elements. If the project isn’t finished by the due date, it does not matter so long as the student worked diligently on it every day. I have discovered that some of my students are just slower. This is not a bad thing, I’ve come to realize. One boy in particular is especially methodical, and may work countless hours on a single drawing.

Yes, I need to help students get ready for the work force in some ways, but unlike graphic and web design, fine art should be less concerned with completing projects by a certain date. True, professional artists must sometimes meet a deadline when creating a show for a gallery. But most of these kids are here for the many other things the artistic process can give a person. I think I’ve been rushing many of them a bit too much.

On the other hand, I have a couple of students who simply refuse to work, dawdle, and make excuses. That will still affect their grade for the day.

This new policy will require more continuous daily monitoring on my part, but I think it will be the best for my students. It should be especially equitable to my slower students who are still putting in their best effort.

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

One reply on “Toward More Process-Oriented Grading”


I have student that will not work. All of his teachers have met with his Mom about the issues and received support for continuing to push him to work–he has a physical challenge with his feet and hips, but no other challenges except the usual teenage stuff. He continues to sit around and do nothing. What tricks are you using on the uunengaged?


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