THE DEVELOPMENT AND USABILITY EVALUATION OF A STANDARDS-BASED GRADING TOOL FOR FACULTY
Universities have a professional responsibility to ensure that their programs and graduates are of the highest quality. Meeting this responsibility requires incorporating content and performance standards into the university curriculum programs and assessments. However, because instructors must provide evidence that students completing their degrees have performed at acceptable levels, the need has emerged to develop a standards-based grading tool that allows for more accurate and relevant management, grading and reporting as well as tracking of content standards. To meet this need, this study designed a grading tool to judge and grade student performance against a set of course standards using a rating scale based on explicit rubrics. This grading tool provided useful tracking and reporting features to instructors. These features served to facilitate and promote a greater understanding of student learning. The development of the preliminary version of the grading tool allowed usability of that prototype to be investigated. This study reports the design, development and evaluation of a standards-based grading tool (called RealGrade) for the faculty at Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman. The rapid applications development model (RAD) was implemented to develop early versions of the software. A usability questionnaire and series of individual interviews were used to measure participants’ reactions toward the usability of the grading tool and determine the extent to which the prototype is usable. The results revealed that participants found the software effective and efficient in facilitating the process of standards-based grading and communicating grades with students at the University. In addition, they favored the design, flexibility and ease of use of the grading tool. Further examinations of mean differences among participants according to their computer experience and teaching experience were conducted.