Still grading…

papers being gradedOnce the semester starts, “I’m still grading” seems to be an on-going line for me.

With Writing for Mass Communication, the students complete at least one writing assignment every week. One goal for instructors is to evaluate that writing assignment and return the graded assignment to the students the following week.

We hope that receiving the previous week’s work will help students advance in their writing — and avoid repeating grammatical and spelling errors.

A few thoughts on grading:

  • Deciding how many comments to make and how many errors to point out. Even if a student earns an “A,” the student would like a few comments about what was outstanding about the assignment. Even helpful comments can become too much to process if we’ve written too many comments.
  • Deciding where to write the grade and the comments. I’ve found it better to put the final grade at the end of the paper rather than at the top of the first page. By having the grade at the end of the paper, the student at least is skimming through the paper en route to the grade and may, I hope, have a better sense of what that final grade will be. One key to writing comments is make sure they are legible. 🙂
  • Finding and commenting on positives. Sometimes teachers can become too focused on what is wrong or what needs improving. That’s an important part of grading. But the teacher also should also look for what is effective about the student’s work. All of us want to hear something positive about our work.
  • Setting the stage for returning papers. I’ve found it most effective to make overall comments about class work before returning the papers. Once the papers are returned, the students are going to be reading through their own papers and won’t hear your insightful comments about writing.

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