Grading Triage

At my school, fall semester classes end on December 10, with exams to follow the next Monday.  And that can only mean one thing: I am so far behind on grading that I’m a little nervous about looking my students in the eyes.

At such moments, I’m reminded of advice that a colleague gave me ten or eleven years ago, back when I was teaching for the first time:

If you’re late getting papers back, announce to the class that you’re done grading, but that you can’t return the papers yet because you’ve found some instances of plagiarism.  Say that if the student(s) responsible come forward, something can perhaps be worked out, but if you return the papers first, then they will Suffer. Your. Wrath.

That way [said my colleague], you kill two birds with one stone: The class won’t ask you for the papers again, because they’ll be too worried, plus some people will out themselves as plagiarists, and you might not have caught them.

I’ve never taken this advice–choosing instead simply to just tell the story to my students–but from a certain point of view it’s a model of Machiavellian ingenuity.

Then, of course, there’s the ever-popular model from Friends:

And while Ross’s strategy is probably a little unprofessional, it’s also the case that, come crunch time, many people seek out shortcuts to get through the pile of self-created work that accumulates.  For me, the main thing is cutting down on interlineal/marginal comments.  When things are truly late, it’s just a rubric score and a terminal comment.  (More on rubrics this evening!)

I know that ProfHacker readers are too organized, efficient, and–why not?–stylish to ever be truly behind with grading.  But if you’ve got tricks–or even just rituals–please spill in comments!

Image by flickr user accent on eclectic / CC licensed

Return to Top