Tag Archive | essay grading

Thoughts on Teaching – First Grading Session – 2/24/2014

I am coming to the close of the first big grading session of the semester.  I have the class divided up into three units, with major assignments due at the end of each unit.  For me, that means that my busy time starts after each unit closes.  And, the first unit hits before I get any significant number of drops, which means that I grade more in the first grading session than any that follows.  This session has been no different.  I have had my students complete papers, discussion forums, and essay exams, which means a lot of direct grading by me.  I strongly believe that my students need to write and need to write a lot, but the curse of that is that I am then the one who has to grade them.  So, I have been grading since last Monday, meaning I am just over a week into this grading session, which I hope to wrap up tomorrow.

The other feature of the first grading session is that I also get my first round of drops from the class at this point.  Students can cruise along in the class for the first 4 weeks, completing some basic reading quizzes and the like.  However, once a paper is due, a discussion forum closes, and an exam must be taken, that’s when the first round of students are gone.  There are always a number of those, so it is part of the process.

The other thing that always comes up with first assignments in the semester is that the first technical glitches hit.  Luckily, this time I actually had no glitches on the exam, which is where they usually occur.  Instead, this time the paper has been the problem.  The students are required to submit their paper to turnitin.com (to check for plagiarism and grade easily with a rubric), but I had about 10 students who managed to miss this part of the assignment.  This is despite the fact that every place that the assignment is referred to says that it is due in to turnitin.com, as well as the fact that I sent out two announcements in the last week warning students that they needed to submit to turnitin.com.  What it really shows, unfortunately, is how the students seem to run mostly on autopilot.  Many just click on the next thing to do without ever looking at any instructions or materials that teachers post.  This does mean that often I do not get what I am really looking for, as the autopilot mode often means that students hit a very minimal level of work.

I wonder if there is a way to combat these problems, but I have yet to come up with any yet.  I modify my class every semester, working on the phrasing of instructions and reconsidering the structure and order of assignments.  And yet, it really doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, as the same problems continue.  Unfortunately, where it ends up is that I end up just assuming a certain level of attrition with little I can do to help them.  All of my efforts end up failing for a certain number of students.  Of course, if they can’t meet my standards, then they probably do not belong in the class and certainly do not deserve a decent grade from me.  That does not make me feel any better about it, but it is the best I can do for now.

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Thoughts on Life – 4/16/2012 – End of another busy section of life

Well, I know it has been a while, but life just intervenes sometimes.  I just finished another 2-week grading session, as the two-thirds-of-the-way-through assignments came in.  The second set of assignments always goes faster than the first, simply because fewer students are left in class by that point.  It was a moderately successful section of the class overall.  I’m down about a 1/3 to a 1/2 in most of my classes, which is unfortunately normal.  I lost a lot fewer than that over the drop deadline, which was last week.  The reality is that a lot of the F’s that I give out are to students who simply do not do any work and yet do not drop.  I can’t say these exams and projects were any better or worse than usual, but it was a lot of essay grading, as I essentially had four 500+-word essays from each of my students.  It’s times like this that I truly know how much of a grading masochist I am.

Our house buying is proceeding along well.  We are looking to close in early May.  We are at the stage of working with a lender and getting the appraisal done.  It has been a lot of paperwork and a lot of decisions along the way, but we are happy with the way everything has turned out.  We have started planning what we are going to do and when as we move into the house.  We will paint, get new carpets, and put in the major appliances that are missing.  We also are going to do some tree trimming, have insulation blown into the attic, and install solar screens.  With our tax money next year, we are planning to replace all of the wooden siding on the house, as it is the original 1960s siding that was poorly taken care of in general.  We have also started thinking about packing and getting rid of stuff around here.  So, that moves along well.

And, the final piece has fallen into place.  We are having another kid.  My wife is 12 weeks pregnant at this point.  We had our second doctor visit and sonogram today.  It’s too early for the gender yet, but we have begun planning for some of the things we need (which includes the new house, of course).  We are currently working on some gender-neutral plans, but we’ll be able to finalize more once we know if it will be a boy or a girl.

So, that’s been my life over the last month or so.  I hope to get back into regular blogging again, at least until finals get here.