The conundrum of grading in an IT age

15 04 2009

I went to finish grading one of my classes assignments and lo and behold half of the grading I had done had gotten wiped out in a file corruption problem. (I had been using a word processor called Scrivener which I think I’ll write about more in the future)  Now the file corruption wasn’t a ITP issue but it reminded me of an issue I have dealing with online submissions and how to grade and provide feedback for my students(who are oftenequally confused as to how they will be getting their grades if not back on a piece of paper.  Having students submit work as blog posts or on wikis makes it harder to do the traditional editorial marks that make grading a paper easier.  This means I often have to go to longer lengths to provide an explanation of the location of a grammatical or stylistic problem then provide a lot of the detail that the editorial mark could have provide.  Not to mention that sending them an email with feedback and a grade means they have to bounce back and forth between two different types of e-objects and hopefully something doesn’t get lost.  Things like notation in Word and using discussion pages are options, but they are unelegant with questions of layout and public availability arising.  Right now I am going with this model

1. First of all make sure to do a careful reading, this has nothing to do with IT but relates to good pedagogy in general so worth including

2. Once I have found those things I want to comment on I do one of two things.  I either copy the text I am commenting on and paste into the document where I am recording grade (usually an email or word processing document) or I take note of the paragraph and/or page and where in that section the area I want to comment on is and write that down in the email or document.

3. Next I provide as detailed as possible/or necessary an explanation of why I selected the particular section and what was notable or incorrect.

4. I then provide an equally detailed explanation of what the student could have done differently either grammatically, stylistically or with the content they have chosen to write about.

5. Finally I gather my general perception of the piece and provide them with the number or letter grade I believe they deserve.

This might seem all a little banal but the whole idea of grading IT projects becomes more complex and I will continue to deal with it because in some environments (such as complete online courses) there is so much that is recorded and you have to decide how you should be grading different materials and how you want to grade high stakes and low stakes writing differently.  No matter what though, I think that in the end the benefit of these new methods of handing in materials definitely outweigh the challenges of provding good grading for the students to reflect on.


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