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Posts Tagged ‘grade

I am physically and mentally drained as I approach the end of academic semesters with my partner institutions.

I facilitated the last class online yesterday right after an intensive feedback and grading week. I normally have two weeks to grade a major assignment, but its deadline was extended by a week so I had to squeeze the same amount of work into less time.

Just how difficult was this to do? To do this particular assessment justice, I have developed a three-phase approach.

  • Phase 1: Get an overview by skimming all submitted papers without grading anything. I do this with classes of 10 or fewer students because the assessments are complex (Masters or Ph.D. level). I also do this so that I am not harsh with the first script and lenient with the last one.
  • Phase 2: Providing formative feedback and grading, both with a detailed rubric. The rubric helps me remain objective as I award marks. I do not believe in over-praising or relying on praise for feedback. I would rather be direct with my feedback on what my students need to do to improve. But I make it a point to acknowledge effort and provide encouragement where it is warranted.
  • Phase 3: I walk away from the graded scripts and return to them one more time to check on my feedback and score totals. I find that the time away helps me overcome blindspots and catch mistakes I might have made in Phase 2.

Phases 2 and 3 total up to four hours per script. That works out to about half a work day per script, so I schedule two papers a day. When things get intense — like last week when I had less allocated time — I worked in three papers a day.

This is intense work. It requires intense concentration and objectivity. So I try not to grade and provide feedback at home because there are too many distractions and comforts there. A side benefit of this habit is my knowledge of several libraries and cafes where I can work in relative peace.

Would I change anything? I wish I could make people in shared spaces speak in hushed tones, but I cannot do that. I try to change unhelpful mindsets and practices my students might have as a result of uncorrected habits. I build this into our sessions immediately after I return their scripts. But, no, I would not change what I think is a rigorous grading process.

You can grade tweets. But should you?

Trying to grade tweets is like grading a ‘live’ conversation or a transcription of one. It is very difficult to do because you have to do one or more forms of discourse analysis.

If you click here to read the responses to the original tweet, only one person so far asked WHY the teacher wanted to do this. The rest suggested half measures at best on HOW to collect and assess tweets.

If a teacher wants to grade tweets to ensure that students tweet, that is not a good enough reason. The same could be said for participating in LMS discussion forums.

Students going through the motions so that they are not penalized is not the same as learning. If you create a rubric or scoring system for tweets, then kids will learn to game the system. The point behind tweeting (e.g., summarizing, one-minute reflections, crystallizing key concepts) could be lost.

Teachers need to rethink why they want to grade discussions or tweets. After all, they do not necessarily assess group work conversations or other social interactions.

Social conversations are one way of making the processes of learning more transparent. These then lead to individually or collaboratively generated products of learning. The processes are harder to capture and evaluate; the products are not.

But there are other ways to record processes: Progress logs or reports, presentation of updates, behind-the-scenes or making-of videos, peer interviews, peer evaluations, and more. These are more timely, strategic, and more logical to manage.

Just because you can do something like grading tweets does not mean you should. You need to know why you are doing it and you must be able to justify the means to the ends.

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