What do i need to do to make an A?


Students are universally concerned with their grades, which can be very frustrating to a teacher who wants them to ask “How can I learn this material?” rather than “What do I need to do to make an A?” After many years of dealing with the latter question (despite detailed descriptions of our grading systems in the syllabus), we developed the following rubric. Its purpose is to help students who come in and ask what they need to do to get the grade they are seeking. We publish the rubric in the course syllabus, and we also give students measurable course objectives and the study suggestions that follow the rubric. The integrative nature of physiology requires an approach to learning that is often unfamiliar and not obvious to many students. Students regularly enter physiology courses expecting merely to memorize facts to be successful, and we’ve found that this rubric helps them to understand expectations and to adopt more successful learning strategies early in the course. The rubric is not a grading scheme but serves as a mechanism to communicate our perception of the skills and behaviors we have observed in successful and unsuccessful students. It was designed for our classes and the way we teach, and it will probably need modifications to be applicable to readers’ classes. For example, when C. Gill moved from Texas to Hampshire College, she modified the rubric to accommodate an assessment scheme that uses evaluations rather than grades. Variations of it have now been used successfully in classes that range from lower-division prenursing and allied health students to upper-division premedical students and biology majors. Feedback from students has indicated that the rubric has been helpful because it allows them to understand what they need to do to be successful. To date, no student has come in and said “You gave me C, but I’m a ‘B’ student by your guidelines.” On the other hand, we’ve had students come in and say, “I don’t understand why I got a C when I worked so hard.” Then the rubric is useful because we can pull it out, get out their tests, and show them exactly how their performance and study strategies match the C criteria more than the B criteria. The rubric and the study techniques also provide students with explicit suggestions for improving their performance. We present our rubric here in the hope that it may be useful to others. We give permission to copy it but really expect other faculty members to adapt and modify it for their specific courses before use.

DOI: 10.1152/advan.90160.2008

Cite this paper

@article{Silverthorn2008WhatDI, title={What do i need to do to make an A?}, author={Dee U. Silverthorn and Cynthia Gill}, journal={Advances in physiology education}, year={2008}, volume={32 4}, pages={332-3} }