A colleague at another institution recently uttered the words, “We all have those students we don’t love as much as others but they still deserve to be assessed fairly.” I know what you’re thinking. This is just plain false because you love all of our students equally. However, the fact remains that it can be difficult to assess student performance and assign grades without the influence of extraneous variables or bias. Factors that can sometimes influence assessment of student learning might include:
- knowledge of how a student performed on prior assignments or in prior courses,
- opinion on how hard they try (effort),
- in-class participation levels (and the assumption that this correlates with their content knowledge or ability to think critically or synthesize), and so much more.
So how do you put on those blinders and assess based on the learning objective without the influences of what you already know about the student? One approach is to grade anonymously.
Blackboard allows you to setup assignments that can be graded without knowing who submitted the work until after you have entered the grade and optional feedback.
Whenever you want to add another layer of fairness and impartiality to your grading, you can use the anonymous grading feature. Without knowing who submitted an assignment, you aren’t unduly influenced by a student’s previous performance, class participation, conflicts, race, gender, or perceived student aptitude. This practice can also contribute to the student-instructor relationship because students are assured that grading was unbiased.
With a simple checkbox and a request to your students to not put their name on their assignment, you can enable this feature in your courses.
Here is a collection of resources related to the benefits of anonymous grading:
It is important to note that anonymous or blind grading does not always work. For example, if charting progress is your goal, anonymous grading may not allow you to do that. Researchers have argued whether anonymous grading is really better; you are encouraged to study this topic to see if this Blackboard feature fits your needs.