Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do you grade papers better in hardcopy or online?

I grade my papers electronically but jeez louis it takes me much longer than the old fashion way. Though my comments are more detailed and definitely easier for students to read, I miss the efficiency of grading in hardcopy (in theory the ability to copy and paste comments from one paper to the next should save lots time but I wind up customizing my comments for each paper so it actually takes me a lot longer). And I miss being able to use diagrams, arrows and such to explain to students some of my suggested edits.  Apparently I'm not alone based on this columm from ProfHacker at Chronicle of Higher Ed in which the author defends hardcopy feedback as better than the electronic kind.  It's not because he's a Luddite either.

I have a confession to make: I hate responding to student essays through a computer screen.

Yes, I know I’ve advocated using text-expansion software to respond to student writing, Billie has taught us how to respond to student writing audio style, Jason has explained how tracking changes on the iPad might be useful when grading, Doug Ward has described grading with voice on the iPad, and I know that Erin (among others, probably) uses iAnnotate with her students’ essays (an iPad app that both Jason and Mark have covered).

Here’s the thing, though: I am much more comfortable (both ergonomically and psychologically) with a printed essay on the table in front of me and a pen in my hand. It’s much faster (for me), and it is much less taxing (for me). I realize that it might sound ridiculous to describe reading and responding to student essays as “taxing,” but here we are. When it comes to grading essays, I just haven’t gotten to the point where using some kind of digital interface feels as comfortable, as seamless, and as transparent to me as using a pen and paper.

What do you think?  I'm assuming the vast majority of profs comment electronically but do you find it as effective or efficient as the hardcopy kind? Let us know in the comments below.



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