I use a grading software program—“MicroGrade” (by now-defunct Chariot Software)—that has proven over many years now to be excellent, but (like all computer software) it has some limitations.
In essence, it (MicroGrade) computes your exact grade on the basis of the percentage weights I assign.
For example: in my business ethics classes, I give the following weights (spelled out precisely in the syllabus for the course) : Midterm #1 = 20%; midterm #2 = 20%; Final Exam = 25%; three short papers = 5% each; term paper = 10%; attendance = 5%; and participation = 5%.
To compute any student’s final grade, the program simply adds together the student’s final percentage score on each component multiplied by its weight.
In our example: final % = (midterm #1 %)(.2) + (midterm #2 %)(.2) + (final exam %)(.25) + (short paper #1 %)(.05) + (short paper #2 %)(.05) + (short paper #3 %)(.05) + (term paper %)(.1) + (attendance %)(.05) + (participation %)(.05).
My first policy is this: I will never give you less than the score computed by Mr. (or Ms.?) computer.
However, my second policy is that I will on occasion—and at my sole discretion!—record a higher grade, though that will not show up on the grading tab but only in the Titan on-line system.
The three (and generally only three) factors that will incline me to elevate the computed grade:
Final exam score (because in my classes, final exams are invariably cumulative);
Attendance score (if you are not committed to attending class with extra commitment, don’t expect me to give your extra consideration in grading);
When applicable, the term paper (which expresses your unique contribution to the thought in the course).
Factors that do not affect my grading:
Irrelevant aspects of your personal life;
You non-academic commitments (such as school sports or your job—I will excuse absences on that basis, but not increase you overall grade);
How hard you say you worked (how would I know, and anyway, why would it matter?);
Your personal desires for the future (like your “need” to get into med school);
Your regrets about your failure to perform—e.g., you realize now that participation and attendance matter.
This brings up the third policy: I do not give extra-credit assignments. Upshot: take all assignments seriously, and give them your best efforts.