Faculty Publications

Scored Out Of 10: Experiences With Binary Grading Across The Curriculum

Document Type



Course administration, Grading techniques, Student assessment

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE

First Page


Last Page



Perhaps no other task has frustrated us as instructors as much as grading. While we recognize the importance of providing meaningful feedback and accurate assessment, our traditional grading had quickly become a task of administrative minutiae instead of helpful coaching. Like many faculty, we have searched for ways to reduce our grading load without harming student learning. We have tried a variety of approaches, from modifying our existing assignments all the way to rethinking our entire course design. The past few years we have been refining a binary grading system: a set of grading principles based upon the practice of scoring student assessments simply as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory (102 possible scores, thus the paper title). We believe this approach has significantly improved our students' attitudes towards our courses and holds promise as a way to significantly reduce the time we spend grading. In this paper, we describe our experiences with our binary grading system in several undergraduate computer science courses. We discuss the general practices of our binary grading, how we have implemented it in our courses, and what our experiences have taught us regarding the future refinement of our grading practices. We hope our experiences will spur discussion and assist other computer science educators in improving their assessment process.


Department of Computer Science

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa