This essay provides further information or elaboration on the importance of teaching
interpretation in literature classrooms. Please read and evaluate how it might
influence your decisions in the classroom. What is useful here? What provokes reaction
or, rather, response?
From Linkon, the following ideas follow closely the model set up by Blau and merit continued
interest: Readings can be complex, ambiguous and even contradictory at times
What does Linkon's article add to your understanding of teaching the reading process?
McKeachie, Chapter Seven: Assessing, Testing and Evaluating: Grading is Not the
Most Important Function
McKeachie presents nine premises at the start of the chapter that are thought provoking.
What do think is feasible for your classroom?
#3 Use some nongraded tests and assessments that provide feedback to you. How might
you do this? Do you think this would be helpful for you as a teacher?
#4 Check your assessment methods against your goals. Are you really assessing what you
hoped to achieve: for example, higher order thinking? This is an excellent question
and McKeachie provides some ideas for evaluating your testing against your objectives. How
might this help you structure your assignments? Your grading weights?
#6 Assessment is not synonymous with testing. What does this premise mean for you?
How will you incorporate self-assessment into your class? Do you think it is worthwhile
to train students to do self-assessment?
Chapter Eight: Testing: the Details
Some of you plan to incorporate tests (or quizzes) in your syllabus. How might
the advice in this chapter help you plan this more effectively? Did this chapter
give you new ideas about inventive ways to use tests.
Dr. Gould has one of most innovative methods of testing I've seen for literature. See course docs for
two examples of his take-home exams. See also his course on
Victorian Novel for examples of assignments.
After reading McKeachie's advice, what new things did you think about in terms of grading the exams?
What might you as an instructor learn about the class from a test?
Chapter 9: Tests from the Students' Perspective
What strategies might you develop to increase student performance on your tests?
Feel free to use and adopt my workshop on writing good essay exams (
Chapter 10: What to do about Cheating
We have been discussing cheating for a while. What does this chapter offer you in terms
of practical information and advice for why students cheat, preventing cheating and
dealing with cheating?
Chapter 11: ABC's of Assigning Grades
If we look at grading as communication, McKeachie suggests, four important points become apparent.
1. Evaluation is a great deal more than giving a grade: more comments needed, more
What do these points suggest to you? How does this affect the way you assign grades?
2. What a professor means by a grade depends on how it is received by the graded
3. Professors cannot change the meaning of grades unilaterally
4. The meaning of grades has changed over the past 50 years; whereas a C used to be average
it is now more accurate to think of a B as average
Can you see a point to using both contract grading and competency grading styles?
How are grades related to learning?
Active learning and discussion
Grading a Student Paper
For the second part of this grading assignment, you will be responsible for reading
one of the purchased papers and grading it. Please evaluate and grade this paper
the way you would a paper for the literature class you are planning. The objective
of this exercise is to make us aware of our own evaluating tendencies and principles
and to share these with others so as to learn 1) other possibilities and 2) the range
of acceptable and unacceptable methods of evaluating literary essays.
We will exchange these papers through Canvas email.
When you return to class on Thursday, I will ask you to compare your evaluation and grading. Please
examine the process of evaluating and become self-reflexive about your own principles. Then
we will share our results with the group.
Important! Please also submit your purchased essay through turnitin so that I can have a plagiarism report to share with the class. You can
do this by using the "Assignments" link in canvas.
Active learning and discussion
As a companion to this grading experience, I would like for you to develop your own rubric for
assessing literature essays. While you can adopt any number of models with which you are familiar,
please be aware of the unique objectives that teaching literature brings. Consider how you will
evaluate, for example, the different stages of critical thinking, knowledge of and interpretation of the literature,
originality of thought and insight. These are some of the more complex aspects of writing about literature.
In your peer review in class, please consider some of the following questions:
Based on the categories, what learning objectives are rewarded most in this rubric?
I have included a variety of different approaches to rubrics and evaluating writing in your course files on Canvas. Please take a look.
Are the descriptions clear and straigtforward? Are there areas of potential confusion?
Are the levels appropriate for the grades or values assigned? Are there grades and values assigned?
Will this be a useful tool for students?
Will this be a useful tool for the instructor?
Back to Top of Page