It’s midterm season, which means the leaves are turning, it’s time to pull out the sweaters (at least in some regions of the country), and there’s a pile of grading on your desk or in your digital inbox. Last week, Nels wrote about the expression grading jail, and some of the reasons why so many faculty feel pressured and stressed by grading. So it’s also a good time to hit the ProfHacker archives for some tips and ideas about grading more easily, effectively, or thoughtfully.
Some Tools To Make Grading Easier Right Now
Erin grades with a magic pencil. Using the right tool for the job can make grading much easier and more enjoyable.
You can use a timer to time your overall grading session (and to then give yourself a break before the next one), or to time your progress on individual papers.
Does your grading soundtrack lift your spirits, keep you energized, or help you wallow in melancholy gloom?
Jason helpfully reminds us that if you’re really behind, sometimes you have to perform grading triage: decide to limit your comments on a particular assignment set, or maybe just use one mode of grading instead of several (such as marginal comments, general comments, rubrics).
If record-keeping is an issue for you, check out Billie’s discussion of several grade-keeping programs.
After you’re done with the grading, Jeff suggests instituting a 24-hour rule, which asks students to take 24 hours to understand and absorb instructor comments before discussing or challenging them.
Consider These Ideas for Next Term
Right now, as you’re grading assignments for this semester, is actually a good time to jot down some notes about what you might like to do differently next term. Inter-term amnesia can easily set in and cause you to forget the brilliant ideas you had about new assignments or new modes of assessment after grading 64 essays.
Jason’s excellent post on grading rubrics explains how they can make the process of grading more transparent (and objective) by clearly linking assignments to the goals of the course.
Billie considered using grading contracts, which specify the actions required to receive a certain grade.
I wrote about the advantage of making the submission and grading of assignments all-digital in a post about using GradeMark, the digital grading environment that is part of some institutional subscriptions to Turnitin. Other digital environments also provide similar features.
Heather wrote about digitizing the lab submission process, using her course management system to streamline grading with rubrics.
How about you?
What are your favorite tips and strategies for grading? Let us know in the comments!
[Creative Commons licensed image by flickr user dominique.godbout]