Grading Notes

General Grading Notes

Be constructive

Many TAs are most comfortable acting as a coach or consultant when commenting on weekly writing prompts and to the first submission of the formal report.

  • Comment more on the conceptual big-idea of the lab and/or on the student’s ability to mathematically analyze the data rather than on surface features such as misspelled words. 
  • Ask direct questions about the concepts or procedure.
  • Challenge assumptions and push for solid logic in the analysis.

Be consistent

It is important that you use the same standard for all submissions for the same assignment. 

  • Make sure you have thoroughly read the criteria for the lab AND know what the expected outcomes should be for each part of the assignment.
  • Read through the entire set of submissions very quickly to focus your attention on assignment as a whole. 
  • Make a list of common mistakes in your online TA notebook.  Use this as a copy/paste repository to use when adding comments to the online rubric.
  • Stick to the grading rubrics that are in place for the entire TA team.  We will continue to complete norming exercises throughout the semester to help keep the entire team on the same page. 

Be focused on improvement

Your comments, especially on the Formal Report, should be focused, offering specific areas for the student to reflect on and improve in future work.

  • Give comments about what students have done particularly well, not just what they have done wrong. 
  • Provide concrete and specific suggestions for improvement throughout.
  • Ask the student to study their work and your comments carefully before scheduling a conference with you.
  • When appropriate, suggest that the student consult a Writing Center tutor for additional help, especially those for whom the development of a logical argument is a problem.
  • If you feel the student has not done sufficient work or that the student needs to change direction completely, don’t spend a lot of time responding to the assignment. Instead, write brief comments noting your recognition of the undeveloped state of the assignment and save your efforts for a face-to-face conference.

Plan Ahead

Plan your work load so that you have your grades posted and graded work returned within one week of submission.

These criteria were developed collaboratively by the physics faculty, by our colleagues at Ohio State, Rutgers, and Stanford Universities, by previous TAs, and by representatives of the Ott Memorial Writing Center here at Marquette. If you follow these criteria, you can maintain consistent evaluation standards among and within classes.

Responding to Student Work

A student’s ability to improve their work depends on the quality and timeliness of the feedback given to them. Therefore, we, as a TA team, will consider at length how we plan to respond to student work. 

Analysis Assignment Rubric

  • Analysis Assignment Rubric – Most weekly assignments in PHYS 1001/1002 or PHYS 1003/1004 are formative assignments and are not full formal reports.  One submission per lab group, due within the first 24 hours after data is collected.  A customized rubric is posted on D2L for each of the assignments submitted via the Dropbox.  Each of the 5-8 weekly criteria are graded on a scale of 0-3 as described below.  Indicate the score for each category and comment on why that score was given. Some samples for each level are given below:
    • Missing or Unacceptable, 0 pt: Missing work should be self-explanatory.  Unacceptable work is copied from other students or from published work (quotes with proper citations excepted).  Faculty will be reviewing all posted work that has a higher than 20% match. 
    • Incorrect, 1 pt: Student did submit the work, but one of the following things, or something similar, is wrong with their submission:
      • Graphs are unlabeled
      • Data is incorrectly plotted (i.e. wrong type of graph or student data is substantially different from expected ranges)
      • Significant calculation errors such as using an incorrect mathematical model
      • The verbal analysis contradicts the data or observations
    • Needs Some Improvement, 2 pts: Student work is at least partially correct, but one of the following things, or something similar, is wrong with their submission:
      • Graph has incorrect units
      • Data does not have appropriate significant figures.
      • Calculations start from an appropriate mathematical model, but the algebraic progression of the work is missing or incorrect.
      • The verbal analysis is partially correct, but some errors/omissions remain.
    • Good, 3 pts: Student work is clear, complete, and correct. 
      • Data is within expected limits and uses appropriate units and sig. figs.
      • Graphs show the relevant mathematical relationships in an easily understandable way.  Labels, legends, and trendlines are clear and correct.
      • Sample calculations include appropriate mathematical models, complete algebraic progression, numerical calculations, and an answer with appropriate units and significant figures.  Verbal commentary explaining the reasoning is included where relevant.
      • Verbal analysis is given using complete sentences in paragraph form.  Students give support for their analysis based on data and observations.  Specific references are used.  Any diagrams, photos, or information obtained from other lab teams or from published sources are given clear and complete citations.

Formal Reports

  • Formal Reports – When students are given significant choice in the development of the lab question or procedure, they are asked to write a full formal report on their work.  The Formal Report Rubric includes criteria based on data collection and analysis and criteria based on the effectiveness of the scientific communication. Formal reports are individual work. Data and calculations may match those submitted by their lab partners but all verbal analyses must be in each student’s own words.

TA Resources