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Center for Teaching Excellence

  • Professor Grading Papers

Best Practices for Grading Objectively


The responsibilities of a GTA/IA typically include grading student work. However, grading objectively involves certain strategies and considerations, of which TAs are often not informed by their course professor. When grading at any level, a TA needs to consider what their “grading philosophy” is for the course. Grading should be recognized and treated as a type of constructive feedback to students, with feedback types differing depending on the type of assessment.  How to provide this feedback, along with grading different types of assessment styles, use of rubrics, and common student complaints, are discussed in this workshop.

About the Facilitator

Dr. Michelle Hardee is Program Manager for Graduate Student programs at the Center for Teaching Excellence. She received her Ph.D. in Marine Science from USC, during which time she authored two Introductory Oceanography lab manuals for undergraduates. Throughout her career, Michelle has been actively involved in marine science education and teacher training. 


"This really was a helpful session.  I recognized that my own practices already have some grading flaws that can eliminated by proper communication between the students and myself.  I enjoyed it and look forward to attending another." – Biology

"This was a very useful and informative seminar, I really appreciated the handouts and examples of all the different rubrics and different grading philosophies. It was very useful in gaining a sense of where USC positions itself in terms of grading practices and the rubrics were very useful templates for the future." – Marketing

"Great class!  I learned more than I thought I would." – Sociology/Women's and Gender Studies

"Grading was sometimes very hard to me. I used to like teaching and hate grading! This activity shed light on how to systematically accomplish grading in a timely manner with a good degree of fairness and reliability. It explained how to define criteria and tie them to a grade when it comes to some uneasily quantifiable activities such as participation, attitude,..etc." – Computer Science and Engineering

"Very good workshop.  Even though I was not physically present I took the group activity seriously.  It was interesting to see that many of the participants ideas of what made an A or and F were similar to my own.  Evaluating at the extremes is relatively easy however.  It is determining what makes a D,C, or B that I find most difficult.  Those are the areas in which I found I was most likely to evaluate similar work differently at different times." – Physics

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