07 July 2011

Confessions, perhaps.

I despise grading papers.

I understand that's probably not a novel confession. I think it's universally reviled as the most annoying thing about teaching. It must, however, get done.

I have a whole slew of grades due on July 11, as the first summer session has ended, and I am not really interested in getting through the grades. I'm five days out (sort of), so you think it's no big deal. Yeah, I hear that voice, too. It drowns out the more reasonable voice that knows my schedule and what happens to time on weekends and realizes that today and tomorrow are probably the best chances I have to get these grades done.

The main problem I have with grading is coming up with concise comments. I tend to overwrite my comments, and that kills my efficiency. According to research, comments are not as helpful as teachers intend them to be (at least on my typical assignments, which don't allow revision). The typical student apparently glances through the comments and gets to the grade and that's that. I wasn't a typical student, I suppose, because I loved to read the comments if they were good and I felt a significant sense of discomfort if they were bad.

And when possible, I took them to heart and strove to fix problems the next time around.

Comments are to an extent important, even if they don't improve the student in the way we intend; comments indicate to the student that you actually did reflect on their work and in the case of the few who do see their academic work -- even in core classes a world away from their majors -- as important to their future as "college educated adults," then it makes a difference for their next paper. The research jury, as with so many things in social sciences, is still out.

You know, it's a lot more fun to write about grading than to grade.


B.K. said...

I don't miss grading at all. I loathed it. I liked talking to students about their writing, but having to comment on it and grade it took so much out of me. But my saying that probably isn't anything new.

cs said...

Agreed. Talking about writing, workshopping writing: I enjoy that. I think it's the interaction that makes that a more interesting task.