Faculty Blog: How do you keep up with grading?

Giving students good feedback is essential to learning, but, especially in big classes, this can take time.  What techniques do you use to strike this balance as efficiently as possible?

One comment on “Faculty Blog: How do you keep up with grading?”

  • Mary Durfee
    October 16, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I once published an article in College Teaching called “The Payoff.” It’s on why I highly value grading, because that’s when I get my ‘payoff’ from teaching. So, I do a lot of grading of written work over the course of a semester (note: the largest class I ever had was about 75 and at Tech. Rather than being efficient in terms of time, I try to learn from the assignment where my students are in their understanding. That’s the efficiency I aim for. Once I have a good clue on that, I can cut back the assignments some or substitute a new one that helps them build towards a major assignment. For example, in international law, they do moot court. They write a memorial for their side of a problem and then do the ‘oralist’ part of arguing their side before the ‘judges’ made up of the class and me. At first I simply offered to read the memorial as they worked on it, but they turned it in after the oralist part. Then I required a draft, but gave it a small % of the grade. Then I upped the draft to higher than the final version. Last time, I made a very short assignment (the one I’m going to use for the critical thinking goal assessment) where students summarize what they think are the best arguments for the questions before the court and to offer what they guess is the best for the opponent. I really liked the result from that smaller change. In the spring I’ll probably adjust the value of the draft/final memorial and perhaps highlight this shorter thing. I was able to encourage them on the shorter writing when they were on track and to “head them off at the pass” when they were having a hard time. Let’s just say, we had a wonderful moot court overall and it was not at all painful to read the final memorials. So, I’m interested in the efficiency of student learning rather than the efficiency of my time grading. I truly hate reading a poor final paper and would much rather read that final paper quickly because it is good. Thus it is efficient for me to read a short thing slowly and carefully in order to get that good paper. I love grading, actually…it’s the payoff for me teaching efforts.

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