Grading vs. Assessment of Learning Outcomes: What’s the difference?

There is often confusion over the difference between grades and learning assessment, with some believing that they are totally unrelated and others thinking they are one and the same. The truth is, it depends. Grades are often based on more than learning outcomes. Instructors’ grading criteria often include behaviors or activities that are not measures of learning outcomes, such as attendance, participation, improvement, or effort. Although these may be correlated with learning outcomes, and can be valued aspects of the course, typically they are not measures of learning outcomes themselves.

Assessment Types

Overview of formative and summative evaluations of teaching


Formative Assessment

Introduction to Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS) by Angelo and Cross

50 CATS to assess course-related knowledge and skills



Types and purposes of rubrics from Penn State  from Penn State

Rubric samples on a variety of college subjects collected from various universities

Rubrics for web 2.0 and other media related subjects from Wisconsin-Stout

Rubric Library from Fresno State

Student learning outcomes and assessment – rubrics from CSU

An ELIXR case story on Assessment Rubrics for various diciplines authored by UC Denver’s Center for Faculty Development


Resources and Tools

Links to examples of scoring rubrics from CSU

Tools to create rubrics: