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Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning Teaching Large Classes

Exams and Grading

Large classes can present special challenges when it comes to providing students feedback.

Multiple-Choice Exams

In a large class, you may find it necessary to use multiple choice tests rather than essay exams and papers that require a lot of time spent grading. (This doesn’t mean that you can’t have students write. Writing is one important way that adult learners process information. Consider in-class writing exercises such as minute papers or journals that will not be closely graded for content. See In Class Learning.)


A rubric is a tool that delineates expectations for skills and/or performance in clear increments. No matter what sorts of assignments and exams you use, rubrics offer benefits for both students and instructors that can be especially helpful in large classes:

  • Clarify learning outcomes
  • Help students know what to expect, and thereby improve performance and reduce the possibility for confusion and complaints
  • Enable students to reflect more constructively on their performance on assignments and exams
  • Encourage students to take more responsibility for their education
  • Reduce the time required for grading, by clearly establishing expectations and by providing clear increments

See these sites for examples and guidelines:

Washington State University