Policies for Online-by-Design Courses: Grades and Grading

This blog post is part of a series to help you build an online course quickly. It is for people who are preparing to launch their third trimester in course that they thought would be F2F but will begin instead as an online course, those looking ahead to intensive May terms, and those who had planned to teach in person in the summer or fall but now find their F2F classes will be online. To follow along, begin by framing your course, selecting your materials, and choosing your assignments. We now shift to writing the policies for your syllabus? Why–given that writing your assignments is actually more important? Because, in a worst-case scenario, you can start a course without the assignments written, but you need to have your syllabus available to students BEFORE the first day of class so they see if it’s a good fit for them.

Below are policies that I use regarding grades and grading. If they work for you, feel free to use them.

Grade Schema

  • 89.5-100%                   A
  • 79.5-89.4%                  B
  • 69.5-79.4%                  C
  • 59.5-69.4%                  D
  • under 59.4%              F

If extra credit is offered in this course, it can move a student no more than one letter grade up, and it can never move a student from an F to a D.

If a student’s final grade for a course is ends in a -9.0 -9.4 (such as an 89.0, 99.1, 99.2, 89.3, or 89.4), I will review the student’s performance over the course of the semester and consider rounding the grade up. When I conduct this review, the following factors count against rounding up: late work, missing work, a decline in quality of work as the semester continues. The following factors are persuasive in founding up: all work submitted on time, increasing quality of work over the course of the semester, helpful contributions to the Student Lounge, where you can answer your peers’ questions.

Graded work will typically be available to you within 72 hours of submission. Be sure to review your graded work to learn from my comments!

Your final grade in this course is comprised of the following assignments…

[Insert final grade breakdown here]

I will not speak to anyone other than you about your grade unless you have given permission to the university (not just to me) for me to be in conversation with them.


Image result for famous painting tears of saint

Above, A gray-haired St. Peter, holding the keys to heaven, folds his hands in supplication, tears in his eyes. Avoid scenes of begging for grades with clear policies. Tears of St. Peter–A Saintly Portrait of Anguish and Atonement by El Greco.

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