Formative Assessment in Doctrinal Classes: Rethinking Grade Appeals

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Reviewed by Sandra Simpson, Gonzaga University School of Law

Article: Formative Assessment in Doctrinal Classes: Rethinking Grade Appeals

Written by: Professor Roberto Corrada, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Published: Journal of Legal Education, Volume 63, Number 2 (November 2013)

In this article, Professor Corrada makes a compelling case for allowing students to appeal their grade on the mid-term exam.  Professor Corrada realized that creating long and detailed rubrics for exams was not helpful if students never reviewed them.  To give them an incentive to review his exam comments, he began giving a mid-term exam, which, he reasoned would encourage students to look at the feedback.  He noted when students came to review their exams with him, many of them had good arguments and probably deserved a better grade.  He felt that he demanded excellence from his students and so shouldn’t he demand that of himself.  The idea of allowing students to appeal their midterm grade was his solution. If the students had a chance to appeal, they might glean more from the review of their midterm.

In developing this idea, he came up with a system which is both efficient and workable. His appeal rate is about 70%, and he believes almost every student reviews his/her/their exam.  Among the many advantages he has found is that it encourages students to think critically about what they are writing and to question assumptions. Further, through explanation students often realize they don’t write what they mean; learning to fix this common error is key to a successful law practice.

The article addresses concerns including the extra time this process takes (which is not as much as one might expect) and gives the reader a step-by-step guide to implementing this appeals process.

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