Enhance Equity in Your Course: Part 5 – Grade Equitably
Posted by alyson.day1
Learn how implicit bias can affect grading
We don’t want to have bias influence our grading, but our implicit biases could be affecting how we score student work and assign final grades in a course. Uncovering and working toward removing bias requires looking at our biases from many angles. Inaccurate judgments have the potential not only to alter grades but could negatively affect teacher-student relationships, distort a student’s self-concept, or reduce opportunities to learn (4).
In this post, we are focused on the tools in D2L that can help reduce bias in grading. We acknowledge that technology on its own cannot eliminate bias, but it can help us respond objectively to student work. Below, we offer some suggestions that you can implement in your D2L course with little effort.
Research has indicated that biases can influence how a teacher grades student work. For example, in one study, 6th grade teachers gave lower scores to girls in math even though the girls scored better on national standardized tests (2). Another study showed that having prior knowledge of a student’s performance can bias how grades are assigned on future work (3) (also known as halo-bias).
Anonymous Marking is a tool in Brightspace which allows you to review your students’ assignment submissions without knowing the identity of the student. While it is not a one-size-fits-all solution to addressing bias, it can be a useful tool to reduce the influence of implicit bias.
- Create an Anonymous Assignment
- Use the blind marking feature for grading short answer questions in quizzes
- If you are not using the LMS to accept student work, ask students not to put names on their assignments, rather have them use their G number
- If you wish to give feedback that is attuned to individual students, consider writing personalized feedback after scoring anonymously
Grading can be demanding and overwhelming at times. Have you ever thought about how your mood, attitude, or behaviors around grading or toward students may be affecting how you determine a student’s grade? Below are a few tips for setting yourself up for an objective grading session.
- Don’t grade hungry – when we are tired and hungry we fall back on our defaults which may include biases (1)
- Take breaks while grading (1)
- Don’t always grade in alphabetical order
Share your practice
We hope this series has been helpful in providing you with actionable suggestions for increasing equity in your courses. Do you have suggestions or methods you want to share about how you have worked to reduce bias in your grading practices? We’d love to hear what you’re doing! Please make a comment below to start the conversation.
(1) Gordon, Anne, Better Than Our Biases: Using Psychological Research to Inform Our Approach to Inclusive, Effective Feedback (February 1, 2021). 27 Clinical Law Review 195 (2021), Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2021-28, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3777546
(2) Lavy, V. and Sand. E. 2015. On the origins of gender human capital gaps: short and long term consequences of teachers’ stereotypical biases. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA. http://www.nber.org/papers/w20909.
(3) Malouff, & Stein, Sarah & Bothma, & Coulter, & Emmerton, Ashley. (2014). Evidence showing that keeping students anonymous helps prevent halo-based grading bias. Cogent Psychology. 1. 10.1080/23311908.2014.988937.
(4) Cohen, G. L., & Steele, C. M. (2002). A barrier of mistrust: How negative stereotypes affect cross-race mentoring. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 303–327). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012064455-1/50018-X