How Do You Grade?

Yesterday, during my daily walk-through the faculty offices, I ran into an impromptu meeting of several faculty members crossing multiple departments and divisions.  It was a very interesting conversation covering multiple topics and none it was planned.  Honestly, it made me smile to see colleagues just hanging out and talking.

One of the topics addressed was grading.  It started with the typical “I have sooo much grading to do!” complaint all of us are guilty of saying at some point.  That’s when the ideas stared flowing.  One veteran online instructor said, “Use Rubrics in D2L and QuickMarks in Turnitin with common mistakes.”  Another experienced instructor chimed in, “I can type 240 works per minute … using Dragon Dictation.” The same instructor followed up with “I’ve been good this semester and keeping up as they come in.”  Another instructor chimed in saying “I have to grade all of my assignments at the same time.”

Before I get into how I personally grade assignments from students, I need to mention, there is no one right way to do it, but there are some wrong ways I need to warn against.  The first is inconsistency.  This happens when we grade at various times with various distractions with varying energy levels.  The second warning is timing of feedback. Students crave feedback on their work.  If it’s taking 2-3 weeks to get that feedback, they will become disconnected from the original work.  On the other hand, if you are racing to grade everything the day it came in, the feedback may not be as complete as it needs to be.  The final warning I want to pass along is knowing your purpose for grading.  Is this formative that you expect the student to take and grow from or is it summative where you are measuring the students knowledge?  Giving feedback, but no time to remediate is frustrating for the student.  On the other hand, giving a measure, but no ideas for improvement and expecting followup growth is just as frustrating.

With all of that out of the way, here’s how I personally grade my CNG 101 class.  It’s an introductory course with short projects the students turn in weekly with a Sunday night due date.  I grade everything on Mondays.  If you turn it in on Tuesday or Sunday, I’m grading it on Monday.  I have a Rubric in D2L with a common feedback document on Office 365.  I copy/paste common feedback lines while adding custom feedback as appropriate for each student.  I also try not to look at the name or picture of the student I’m grading and stick to the rubric to avoid too much bias.  I’ve also found I work best in the morning, so most of my grading is done early on Mondays.  It works for me and my students seem to appreciate it.

So, how do you grade?  Please comment below with your ideas for grading.

2 thoughts on “How Do You Grade?

  1. I have both a word document with common feedback comments that I can copy and paste as needed and extensive comments and feedback loaded into Quickmarks. Those two tools really reduce the time I spend grading though I also add additional personal feedback as appropriate throughout the papers. The most common concern I hear from students is that they aren’t sure if teachers have even read their work. I ensure that they know I have read their papers by commenting on writing mechanics and content throughout their work rather than in the text box on D2L. Like Nate, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the name of the student when I am grading and just grade based on what is physically in front of me. I also break all of my papers into points allotted per section of the paper which I think helps me with consistency as well.

  2. I grade every morning when I arrive at the college around 6:30 am. No one is here and there are minimal distractions. I like to give very specific and detailed feedback on any point deductions so the student will understand and improve. I also created very detailed and specific instruction documents for the students to review prior to the assignments. Of course there is a rubric for the students as well. I keep these documents from term to term and only add to them when an issue arises (and it is now a very rare event).

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