Assignments and Grading

by John Bandler

After five plus years teaching, I know it is important for students to get good practice researching, writing, and editing. So I usually require a paper during the course, and I have developed resources for students for that process. Also, I generally require weekly written submissions, to aid communication and practice writing.

Assignment instructions and templates

Writing resources include

Research resources include

  • Course book
  • Syllabus materials
  • This website
  • Laws, regulations, cases
  • Other experts
  • The school's library


Assignment grading in general

  • Read the syllabus to see what the course requires and what I value (mostly your effort to learn and participate and make this a rewarding experience for all of us)
  • Assignment grades are designed as a form of feedback, to ensure students who put in effort and learn are rewarded, and so students who need to do more realize that.
  • I actually read your submissions (it is very time consuming).
  • I do my best to be fair. I reward effort and quality. Being fair means great submissions and great effort gets high grades, and those that fall below that need to get lower grades.
  • I seek to encourage effort, because with student effort comes learning.
  • I almost always leave feedback, please read it and incorporate for next time.
  • If things need improvement, I may deduct points so you know to improve for next time.
  • I don't expect any student to submit perfect submissions every time. Nor should you.
  • Losing a point here and there is not the end of the world, so relax if you miss some. It is not nitpicking, I am just trying to be fair. We have many touchpoints over the semester and your overall grade will be fair.
  • If you are continually losing many points, or making the same mistake repeatedly, that will add up. Please improve.
  • Assignments should be submitted on time. Late submissions lose points, its only fair to those who got it in on time. If you are late, hopefully you let me know in advance, and also please indicate in the submission and why.
  • Look to the assignment question for clues on how to answer.
    • "List" means you don't need a full sentence. You can just list it.
    • "Summarize" or "explain" means you need full sentences that "stand on their own". They should not require reference back to the question. They should be proper sentences, with proper capitalization, spelling, punctuation, etc.
    • Do your best to answer the question asked. Feel free to explain your answer, including if you found the question confusing (not every question is perfect, but sometimes the answer is in the reading, in class, in the video. But I cannot give individual guidance as to each question because that would not be fair to other students and is overly time consuming on these weekly assignments. Thus, if you ask me "What did you mean by question X", my answer will be "Please just answer it the best you can, and feel free to explain your answer or any confusion."
  • The last question is always a check-in. You can ask me something or tell me something. If you ask me something it should be something you really want to know, don't just make up a question for the sake of it.

Grading of paper topic and paper outline assignments

  • If I grade the paper topic submission or paper outline submission, take it to heart, read my feedback, get caught up if you need to, but don't stress. You can catch up, it won't sink you in the course. It is your wake up call. Now you know you need to follow my instructions, and when I say you need to have put in substantial research and effort, I really mean that.
  • If I do not grade the paper topic submission or paper outline submission, then do the work and read my feedback and incorporate it as if it was graded. If you don't, your final paper will suffer.
  • Typically when I grade, my philosophy is that an honest grade is feedback for where the student needs to be. It is just a checkpoint to get them on track for their final paper, and sometimes it is a wake up call. Students who failed to follow instructions, do the research, or put in the effort get a grade that reflect that. A a poor grade is not the end of the world, it is a notice to catch up with the goal an excellent final paper..
  • I may stop grading them in some courses. I have found that many students find this as a source of distress to get a low grade early in the course when they submit work that does not follow the instructions or represent sufficient effort. And grading is more work for me too anyway.



Posted 6/26/2022 based on years of teaching. Updated 7/25/2022