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February 9, 2007
Overview: Last week's tip offered four suggestions for easing the grading load. Below are three more from the same article:
Select one to three major problems to comment on. Pointing out every flaw in an assignment is not only unnecessary and time-consuming, but it will also frustrate and overwhelm your students. They become confused and don't know what to fix first. Comment on the major issues in a paper or report, sometimes ones you have pre-identified as the focus. Give clear instructions for revision. Leave the rest alone.
Reduce your comment wording. Try learning to write shorter phrases such as, "Needs development," Needs a clear focus," "Needs a 'so what,'" or "Lacks required sources." This strategy has the added bonus of adding consistency to your grading.
"See me briefly." Many times it is more efficient to explain something verbally than it is to write it down. This also gives students an opportunity to ask questions. Students often grasp the problem better even after a short conversation.
Source: Adapted from Frances Johnson. 2006. Death by Paper: Ten Secrets for Survival. The Teaching Professor, 20(6): 1-3.
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