December 15, 2009
The Grading Grind
Okay, so this begins the part of the semester that is a least-favorite among many of us...the grading grind. In ASP, we tend to grade year-round, so it's not quite the flurry that it is for doctrinal law professors. But nonetheless, I am swamped with papers that need to be corrected, and grades due Dec 22 for my undergrads (much later for my law students). Here are some pieces of simple advice if you are new to grading or giving feedback on papers:
1) Give yourself a break at between 3-5 papers. If you try to do more than that, you start to get irritated, and it will show in the grades. And that is not fair to the students.
2) At least scan them all once after you have assigned grades. Since it is not wise to grade everything at once due to fatigue, you need to be sure you are using a consistent standard.
3) Rubrics help. They are smart pedagogically, but they also can help keep you consistent.
4) Plan ahead. Grading takes much, much longer than you think it will when you start in ASP. I can easily spend an hour or more on each paper, even when I am not giving detailed feedback (which I almost always do).
5) If you are giving feedback (and you should), be sure students can understand what you are writing. After 3-5 papers, handwriting tends to become sloppy. And feedback can't help a student if they can't read it!
6) Be gentle. It's easy to become snarky and frustrated when you see the same error for the nth time. But think of it this way...if you think you are frustrated with the mistake, chances are the student is much, much more frustrated with themselves that they can't get a concept, no matter how hard they try.
7) Don't try to eat and correct papers. It's gross when a paper is returned to a student covered in food gunk and icky-ness. Don't be that person. (That being said, I think we have all been that person at least once).
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