Tag Archives: grading

Grading…in Meme’s

I began this post by googling “grading meme’s” and was not prepared (at all) for the plethora of other folks who are much wittier than I who were populating the interwebs with countless meme’s that made me giggle.

It’s finals season and while the sarcastic jerk in me really wants to sing, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the faculty in me who will be grading really wants to crawl in a hole and die. I have to admit, I like grading less than I like almost any other responsibility that I have related to my job. I hate grading more than I hate paying my “adult” bills in real life. I loathe grading more than the sight of the toilet paper roll going in what I deem the “wrong” way. Grading is the bane of my existence but giving feedback is one of the most important aspects of my job as a teacher. See? The struggle is real.

I don’t see multiple choice tests as a good form of assessment in general for the course I’m thinking of, particularly on a final that is cumulative and the masochist in me could NOT give a multiple choice final so it chose essay’s for the final. Four of them from each student. I will be the biggest offender to my own undoing at the end of next week, but as I contemplated how I wanted to assess my students, I could not deliver a multiple choice test. Multiple choice is great for quick assessments, weekly check in’s and other things, but sometimes reading how a student weaves all of the content together is the best form of learning. With 60 students in one of my classes, I have given myself an assignment of epic proportions and I’m aware of this.

My graduate students have literature reviews due about their potential research for their thesis and the undergrad researchers have had several incremental deliverables due over the course of the semester that have included: extensive literature review, survey that is currently being piloted, draft of academic poster, press release for the public on the same topic, and a ‘zine for a middle school audience. I’ve really been pounding hard on the “know your audience” aspect the last few weeks to wrap this up.

Grading and assessing student learning can be both formative and summative for me as a teacher. While I can joke about my disdain for grading, I do understand that it is 100% necessary for me to do in order to help my students foster their own learning and move forward. If you need me over the next two weeks, please bring wine. Or melted cheese. Happy grading folks!

 

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Every Time A Student Complains About Their Grade

Every time a student complains about their grade via email, my tiny bat like brain does the following things:

First reaction:

When Students Complain About Their Grades {New Faculty}

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Second reaction:

When Students Complain About Their Grades {New Faculty}

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While I’d really like to send back the honey badger or the bear, I am finding myself annoyed on the last day of the semester. My (grad) students were given rubrics, outlines, and have been able to track their grades religiously all semester. I’ve been a studious reader/grader each week on purpose. DO NOT think I’m going to change your grade because you failed to show up for the final paper (also worth the most points).

I was pleased with my class all semester. Many were able to synthesize and analyze their professional lives. As graduate students, the work becomes more reflective and I push them to drill deep and think about how to enhance their professional careers. I have to say, I am disappointed in the group of final papers I received. Many students “softballed” the assignment, doing the bare minimum and then expecting maximum credit. Half of me thinks, “what could I have done better?” and the other half thinks, “hell no.” Yes, I can always improve as a professor, I’m aware of this. However, I also know that your sense of entitlement and the way you communicate are NOT HELPING your cause. Using phrases like “my friends and I think” and “you didn’t do enough” are NOT ways to get me to respond positively to you. If you wanted more than once a week feedback, you probably need a therapist, not a graduate level professor.

Grade grubbing isn’t a new thing and it’s not my first rodeo but I’m a little disgruntled at the number of emails I’ve received from graduate students who think they’re entitled to a better grade. I can always do better as a professor, but I implore my GRADUATE students to STOP GRADE GRUBBING. Stop complaining because you LOST POINTS and change the conversation into “HOW CAN I DO BETTER NEXT TIME?” You will have a thesis, dissertation, or final project of some sort and instead of putting the blame back on ME, change the conversation to IMPROVE for next time.

 

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Stressed Out & Grading

Stressed Out & Grading {New Faculty}

‘Tis the season to be grading, fa la la la la, la la la laaaaa. While consuming copious amounts of coffee and tea, I’ve also been grading through the caffeine jitters. (stop drinking caffeine and get it together).

Alas, the end of the semester is here. And by here, I mean in my calendar and in my course management system the final papers I assigned are staring back at me. Like that creeper in the grocery store that keeps ogling at you in the produce department.

There will be a flurry of ‘end-of-semester’ things to look after this year and my semester is going much the same way. On top of research, now there’s final grading, final grade submissions, final meetings with undergrads and graduate students, and faculty “things.” I’ve been in a new faculty professional development group now all fall and have been really pleased with it. It’s more time, but it’s time well spent. It’s already helping me plan my undergraduate research course for the spring and I’m so thankful for the time, space, and permission to plan. I’ll be attending a ‘syllabi bootcamp’ in January to get it tightened up and again, offer me the time, space, and permission to do nothing but think about teaching about research.

As we speed skate to our coveted winter break, it’s important to think about how our winter ‘break’ will ultimately shape up. Final grades will be dropped, December commencement will happen, and then there will be a deserved lull. Some of our universities now offer “winter-mester,” a full blown marathon over 2-3 weeks for students to pay for credit and someone (like you) to teach these fast paced courses. Those don’t offer a lot of flexibility in terms of down time, but for those of us who are not offering ‘winter-mester’ courses, what can we do to maximize our time to get ready for January?

  • Take time off. Nothing is as precious as giving ourselves permission to relax. Step away from your computer, turn off the dings and dongs your phone makes for a few weeks. You’ll stop panicking after about 24 hours and it will be heavenly.
  • Block off your personal/family schedule first. Making time for what’s truly important will be key. Whether married, partnered, with or without children, or whatever your situation may be, plan some time to yourself. Rotting on your couch binge watching Netflix is a perfectly good reason during that delightful week between Christmas and New Year’s and if anyone is wondering, that’s on my calendar.
  • Make a point to do something enjoyable and just for you. Massage? Long session at a coffee shop with a friend? Alone time with no other “humans” present? Whatever your cup of tea is, make sure you plan that time for yourself. It can be a luxurious privilege to do something we want, for an hour, for 12, for several days.
  • Ease back in. If you assign yourself an insurmountable task your first day back, you’ll likely fall off your own productivity wagon. Take care of ‘little things’ first. Mundane and mindless type things–deleting all emails before answering the ones you need to attend to, cleaning up your office space to make room for spring, or simply getting back on a regular schedule. Those with kids will find that is much easier when they go back to school.
  • Respect your circadian clock. If you’re on a roll, keep rolling. If you need a few minutes to take a walk to clear your head, head outside for a brisk stroll. It’s a few weeks where your calendar is hopefully not ruling your life so you can enjoy it. If you’re smart, you do this during the semester as well, but it doesn’t always work out so neatly.

Enjoy yourself. Whatever you do, however you do it, and wherever you place yourself, enjoy it. I wish you a festive and complete grading season.

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The Grading Grind

The Grading Grind {New Faculty}

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How do you grade?

I had the best intentions in August when syllabi planning. I had my weeks laid out nicely, my readings selected (with the exception of three I added in the latter half of the semester), and gosh darn it, I had my due date calendar up to speed. Delivering an online course means I had to be super organized about things since I’d never actually “see” my students in person, but 100% online.

Inevitably, I made a few mistakes and **gasp** over assigned some work, taking away a few assignments and giving the points to everyone. No one seemed to mind.

As I head to the latter portion of my semester, I’ve accounted for all the things I’d hoped to engage with my students about and I worked hard to design a MANAGEABLE course for ME. Yes, ME. I’ve learned a few things and quickly tried to compensate. I’ve also changed how I do things in many cases to help streamline the process for my students and for me each week.

  • I front loaded assignments to ensure that all of us (students and instructor alike) would have time to complete the final paper for the course. It has long been a point of discussion to professors everywhere of how to load a course.
  • I took an “every other” route with this course. There was work due every week, but every other week was a bit lighter in the amount of writing expected and the assignment expectations. One week, a personal reflection would be due of about 500 words and a ‘group chat’ among teams in the course. There would also be a reading and/or another reading or a guest lecture in the form of video or audio. On the opposite week, there would often be an article critique due (1000 words) and sometimes nothing or sometimes a reflection on a documentary pertaining to their chosen industry. With such a broad course topic, my course attracts a wide variety for an audience and it’s important to me as the instructor to try and understand what is important to each student.
  • I stopped making comments in document (unless there were a LOT) and instead, started emailing students directly with my comments. If there were gross APA, syntax, and grammar errors, I simply said, “this document had more than three errors in the first few paragraphs, please check.”
  • I set aside one day a week (barring any schedule issues) to grade. In a set amount of time, blocked off my calendar, and didn’t come to campus until it was done.
  • I tried not to “over grade” or make so many comments/make the email so long, that the student wouldn’t care. Usually a short paragraph, less than three sentences to drive home a point or pose questions. Nothing too verbose. My students all work full time to, they don’t have time to read short novels.
  • Set clear expectations up front. I told my students what I expected early on. I let them know they’d struggle week one and two and then we’d get into a rhythm. Only a few panicked.
  • I sent out rubrics to help manage expectations.
  • I accepted drafts on the final paper during ONE WEEK of a set length for review. I reviewed each one I sent.
  • I sent a mid-semester survey to give students a voice if they had feedback for me. Only four answered.

What can I work on?

  • My online organization of the course materials. Some things didn’t get organized as well for every student. Their folders for assignments also got jumbled halfway through the semester and I had to make a folder in each folder. Arrggghhh!
  • Grading hiccups. Technology wasn’t always my friend in terms of the CMS our university uses.
  • I worked hard and sometimes struggled engaging all learners. I also am learning to accept that not all of my students care about authentic learning, some just want the bare minimum for the degree.
  • Time. I still think I can be more efficient with my time. I’m still figuring out how to do that.

What advice would you offer a new faculty member who’s teaching, researching, serving, and not sleeping? 🙂

 

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