Most teachers, including those like me who absolutely LOVE teaching, consider grading a chore. It is repetitive, and it takes a lot of time. Here are some tips I learned from Linda Nilson at Clemson University that can help make grading more effective:
1. Begin by sorting
Look over all the assignments quickly and sort them into categories such as: excellent, very good, OK, not so good, poor. Now that the harder decision is made, you can further save time if you:
2. Use a grading rubric
The more detailed your grading rubric, the less comments you have to write on assignments. All you have to do is highlight the category that applies. Just Google and learn how to create good grading rubrics. Even after providing feedback on a grading rubric, you feel you want to say more. In this case, consider doing the following:
3. Provide collective feedback
Write a note to the entire class and provide overall feedback without identifying any individuals. You can structure it like this:
Overall, excellent assignments showed these features, and had these kinds of mistakes:…… (make lists).
Overall, assignments that did not meet expectations did these things well but had these kinds of mistakes: … (make lists).
4. Outsource the grading onto students
One brilliant tip I remember from Linda is a win-win situation. If an assignment has lots and lots of minor errors (e.g. typos), return the graded assignment to student but do not point out every minor error. Tell the student that if s/he identifies X number of errors, s/he can get X number of lost points back. This is a very good learning experience for the student, and saves the teacher time.
There are many other tips out there, but these are the ones I know that have helped me a lot. If you are interested in learning more from Linda, check out her book:
This last one is from me:
5. Trust your first instinct
Beginning teachers spend a LOT of time double-guessing their decisions. You think this assignment is a B+, then spend 45 minutes arguing with yourself, only to arrive at the same decision that it is a B+. Trust your first instinct. Be confident. You’re usually right. If you’re not, be on the student’s side and try to see how they can do better and earn a higher grade. Usually tip #1 above helps reduce agonizing time.
What other tips do you have that can make grading more effective?