Specifications grading: What it is and lessons learned

Leslie, Paula orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0379-9044 and Lundblom, Erin (2020) Specifications grading: What it is and lessons learned. Seminars in Speech and Language, 41 (4). pp. 298-309. ISSN 0734-0478

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0040-1713781


Traditional point-based grading is failing students entering a competency-based workforce: Employers require concrete skills and knowledge, not "high" grades. In the specifications approach, learning outcomes are explicitly linked to the grading system. The basic components of the approach include: clear alignment of learning outcomes to certification standards, bundled sequences of assessments tied to basic and advanced competency/learning outcomes, pass/fail grading with no partial credit, opportunities to revise unacceptable work, and detailed expectations of performance on assessments. This article describes the specifications approach and provides examples highlighting how to (a) align course learning objectives with a grading system, (b) implement a pass/fail approach even for complex assessment, (c) define specifications, (d) create and sequence bundles of assessments, and (e) provide instructor support through feedback and tokens.

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