Teaching Tip: Surviving the grading load

1/30/2007 8:00:00 AM

Excellence in Teaching Program Tuesday Teaching Tip Topic: Surviving the Grading Load Overview: Although the correlation between writing and thinking is well-documented, many instructors hesitate to assign research papers, reflective essays, reaction papers, journals, blogs, wikis, or online discussion threads because of the burden of grading. Here are some concrete suggestions for easing the grading load:

  • Read the papers quickly and sort into three piles: Very good, average, poor. This will help you make an early evaluation of a paper's quality and recognize the papers that will likely take longer to grade.
  • Grade with a timer. When the timer bell goes off after 10 or 15 minutes, write your final comments and start on the next paper. A timer keeps your efforts focused.
  • Read everything but correct and line edit only a few selected paragraphs using minimal marking (a check by a line to indicate problems with punctuation or other mechanical errors). Make final comments. Expect students to make corrections, not you. If you make this the students' responsibility, they are likely to pay more attention the first time around. This lets you save comments for more substantive issues such as a organization and development.
  • Make positive comments on one side of the paper and negative comments on the other. Most instructors make more and longer negative comments than positive ones. This practice enables you to achieve more balance.

Source: Frances Johnson. 2006. 'Death by Paper: Ten Secrets for Survival.' The Teaching Professor, 20(6): 1-3.


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