Specifications Grading

Higher education educators are passionate to search for alternative assessment and grading methods to help students master learning and cultivate an inclusive learning environment. A pedagogical strategy called, Specifications grading, structuring grades on learning competencies achieved rather than on earned points complements mastery learning (Nilson, 2014). It involves a wide variety of implementation strategies that were productive, allowing faculty a great deal of latitude and creativity in the system (Tsoi et al., 2019). Implementing Specifications Grading in teaching could motivate student learning, bring rigor and quality of student work up, and lessen the grading load and student stress and cheating. Learn more details about this pedagogical strategy by watching the mini-seminar videos or reading Linda’ Nilson book – Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time.

Nilson, L. B., & Stanny, C. J. (2015). Specifications grading: Restoring rigor, motivating students, and saving faculty time. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Tsoi, M., etal.(2019). Variations in implementation of specifications grading in STEM courses. Retrieved March 04, 2021, from https://digitalcommons.gaacademy.org/gjs/vol77/iss2/10/

Student Onboarding and Communication

It is important for faculty to explain to students the concept of Specifications Grading and how this grading method can transform their learning experience.

Faculty Teaching Showcase

Veronica Berrocal – Statistics

Revising An Upper-Level Undergraduate Statistics Course Using Specifications Grading

Natascha Buswell – Engineering

Using Specifications Grading to Shift the Focus from Learning the Content to Learning in Context

David Copp – Engineering

Using Specifications Grading To Better Align Assessments With Learning Objectives In Engineering Design Project Courses

Christopher Davis – Mathematics

Canvas Tips for Specifications Grading

Michelle Digman – Engineering

Implementing Specification Grading and Mastery Learning for Photomedicine

Franklin Dollar – Physics & Astronomy

Specifications Grading In A Large Lecture, Introductory Physics Class

Aimee Edinger – Biology

Working Towards Mastery Grading In An Intro Biology Course

Celia Faiola – Biology

Teaching Ecology and Evolution with Specifications Grading

Alfredo Freites – Chemistry

Implementing Specifications Grading in a Mathematics and Scientific Computing for Chemistry Course

Irene Gassko – Computer Sciences

On A Way To Specification Grading

Patrick Hong – Engineering

Aligning Course Design To Help Students Develop A Growth Mindset, Grit, And Agency Using Specification Grading Leveraging The Canvas Learning Management System

David Kirkby – Physics & Astronomy

First Steps in Specs Grading for Upper Division Physics

Rachel Martin & Jessica Kelz – Chemistry

Implementation of Specifications Grading in Upper-Division Chemical Biology Course

Michael Ratz – Physics & Astronomy

Specification Grading Light

Jon-Erik Tateri – Engineering

Creating a Happy Medium Between Traditional and Specifications Grading


Laura Tucker – Physics & Astronomy

Using Specifications Grading With Mastery Quizzes And Other Alternatives