Grading Jail

It’s gotten to be that there’s so much end of term marking every December that I can no longer summon the energy to panic. I just mark as best I can, call it a day sometime around eleven at night and then get up too early in the morning to get the kids out the door before starting all over again.

Rubrics help: reducing my grading comments to focused feedback on the thesis and argumentation, the use of evidence, the proficiency of expression, etc. I’m telling students that if they want more detailed feedback, they’re encouraged to schedule a meeting or come by in office hours. Since so many students never pick up their final papers, I’ve finally realized that it’s a waste of my time to pour over all of the essays with a granular level of editing commentary.

So I’m in a zen state of marking as much as I can but not stressing too much about how much isn’t done. However, I’m not doing too much else that isn’t marking. I’m not watching TV (my DVR contains weeks of the one drama I would like to watch), reading any of my leisure books or I’ve only spent three hours (absolutely mandatory) on my own research in the past two weeks. I’m more than a little bit resentful about social obligations and meetings eating into my marking time, mind you – can’t we get together AFTER markings all done? But if you wonder why this blog is so quiet, my confinement to grading jail is a big part of that.



Filed under academe, teaching

9 responses to “Grading Jail

  1. Here’s a file, baked into a cake.

  2. J Liedl

    Cake! It’ll still take me a while to saw through the bars but there’s hope!

  3. Sm

    I have cut way back on the comments on the final writtten assignment in any course. I figure that the students who are careless in their use of language after getting comments on a previous assignment will just look at the grade and maybe toss the paper aside. After all, ignoring offered help is one reason their writing is (still) so bad.

    • J Liedl

      I’m a slow learner when it comes to copious comments. And, yes, it does pain me that a year after the course is over, I’m looking at a pile of papers to be shredded that include so many painfully composed comments never read by students who never picked up their papers. . . .

  4. Ink

    You are wonderful for working so hard. Hang in there!

  5. I never, ever write comments on final papers or exams. On the rare (one per semester?) occasion that a student stops back to pick up hir exam or paper, I’ll tell them that I’ll write the comments out and they can come back later that week. It happens so infrequently that putting comments on everyone’s papers would be a huge waste of time.

    Most of my students will have had two essays returned to them with comments by the time they sit down to write their final essays/papers, or in the case of research seminars, I will have commented on two versions of rough drafts already. So to that extent, they probably don’t really care what I have to say about their final draft anyway! They can fill in the blanks themselves.

    • J Liedl

      I don’t mark up the exams too much but I do try to spend some time on the final essays, particularly for courses that end in December. I’m impressed that you have built in reviews of two drafts coming up to the end of the research seminar – is that a year-long course a term course? My seminars are twelve weeks and so there’s just enough time for proposals and maybe one draft review as I’ve set up my courses.

      You’re right that when it comes to the capstone-style project that we sure hope they know what they’re getting into by the time the last revision is marked!