This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive.
Determining Final Course Grades
As we approach the end of the term, one of the thornier challenges you will likely face is the determination of students? final course grades. Your challenge is to balance your values of excellence and integrity with the best long-term interests of your students. While being too lenient defeats your purpose for entering teaching in the first place, awarding grades without recognition of a larger context often stifles motivation of individual students who might have closed the term more strongly than they began it. It also hinders your ability to nurture a following of students that contributes to your perceived effectiveness and sense of personal satisfaction.
While “academic freedom” provides a great deal of personal leeway in awarding of grades, there are potential restraining forces of which you should be aware. These include the shared values of the department within which you teach, and institutional “grade justification” procedures that many institutions have initiated to address the rather rampant “grade inflation” of recent years. Be sure to clarify appropriate practices with your instructional leader well before your final grades are due.