Specifications grading is an assessment strategy based on mastery learning, clear learning objectives, and frequent evaluations and feedback. Twelve instructors at a southeastern four-year public college implemented the specifications grading method across eight discrete courses in four STEM areas. In this modified assessment strategy, the students controlled their grades through multiple attempts, with limitations, on assessments of course objectives. The instructors designed and executed specifications grading in unique ways that aligned with their content areas, teaching beliefs, and individual teaching styles.

Preliminary observations suggest that, regardless of subject area, specifications grading can be used as an alternative to traditional assessment methodologies in STEM courses, regardless of the content area. In general, three major variations of implementation arose from this initial trial. Major differences and commonalities among these types are discussed as they relate to the course subject area in which they are used. The results of this work add a unique set of assessment practices to the current body of knowledge in that other practitioners may gain insight on variations of the specifications grading method that may be practical and applicable in their own classrooms.


We wish to acknowledge Georgia Gwinnett College School of Science and Technology, Dr. Thomas Mundie (Dean of SST), Dr. Sebastien Siva, the National Science Foundation and University System of Georgia for their funding of our faculty learning community, and our family and friends for their support of this work.