Posts Tagged ‘grading’

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Unlocking Grade Levels

posted: 7.15.14 by Traci Gardner

Since I returned to the classroom last August, I have been searching for assessment strategies that worked for me and for students. I tried Assessing Student Work with Rubrics, but found that they weren’t working for me. I had endless trouble Finding a Tool to Grade Online, and my worries about grade inflation and unhappy students led me to want to Forget about Grades.

As I wrote up the Professional Bio Assignment I am using in my technical writing class this summer, I knew I needed to address the issue of assessment for the work students would do. [read more]

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The Existential Fiat Studio

posted: 11.15.13 by Barclay Barrios

I’m sitting here composing this post in a Fiat dealership studio, waiting for them to finish changing the oil in my saucy “rosso” Fiat 500 Pop.  And I’m lingering on the memory of a recent moment of radical self-doubt, the kind that all too often masks itself as an epiphany. [read more]

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Assessing Student Work with Rubrics

posted: 11.15.13 by Traci Gardner

Tonight, I need to finish work on rubrics for the two different courses I am teaching. I like the idea of using rubrics as part of my response to student work because they can help delineate the nuances between one letter grade and another.

The challenge tonight, however, is how to recover from the flawed rubrics I created for the earlier assignments in these courses. [read more]

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The Choices of WEXMOOC

posted: 7.2.13 by Traci Gardner

By the time this post is published, I will have finished The Ohio State University’s Writing II: Rhetorical Composing Course (#WEXMOOC), and I hope that I will have managed to squeak through with a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction. It wasn’t the five compositions or the requirements for peer review that were the biggest challenge to earning that distinction. It was the seven Check Your Progress activities. [read more]

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ePortfolio Day: the preview

posted: 5.6.13 by archived

As the end of the semester nears, I’ve been reminding my students every class that Portfolio Day is coming, trying to spark a last-minute flurry of revision before the day of reckoning. I disguise the tinge of dread I feel myself for the day that will be, for me, at the same time exhausting, exhilarating, and nerve-wracking (in much the same way as I used to get nervous bringing my kids to the dentist). Things will be a little different this semester, though, because I won’t be scrambling that morning to print out last-minute essays and gather up all the assignments and rosters required; this semester, for the first time, some of us will be submitting not stacks of manila folders but rather electronic portfolios.

The adjective we always use to describe our Portfolio Assessment Project is “homegrown,” and because of this one of its key characteristics has always been its flexibility:

The culture of the department grants faculty a high degree of academic freedom, so the portfolio project is a far cry from an exit exam that asks students to respond to a common prompt for ease of assessment. Instead, in our project, faculty members submit their own individually crafted assignments, which we read along with student work. The tiny window this gives me into my colleagues’ classes is one of my favorite parts of the project, though it invariably fills with a hunger for more discussion of assignment and course design. Over time my own assignments have changed as a result of the project, and I have seen similar development in my colleagues’ assignments. [read more]

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Categories: Holly Pappas
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Supplementing Your Online Course Evaluation

posted: 11.22.11 by Traci Gardner

4175299981_614e7d9dc5_mIn the next few weeks, we’ll undertake one of the more awkward moments in the college classroom: asking students to complete course evaluations. We need accurate, honest feedback to help us improve our teaching, but students are all quite aware that we haven’t turned in our final grades yet.

The system for course evaluation usually protects students to allay their fears that truthful feedback will affect their grades. Whether it’s on some departmental form or an online questionnaire, course feedback is anonymous and withheld until several weeks after the end of the semester.

The problem for me is that I don’t like to stick to only the official questions. As I discussed last year, the numbers generated from those official forms don’t give me specific suggestions or details. Love? Meh? Hate, Hate, Hate? That kind of response doesn’t really help me much.

To get more robust feedback, I supplement the official evaluation with a written question or two of my own. Last year, I even proposed Ten New Course Evaluation Questions that I hoped would improve the feedback I got by moving beyond the generic questions I had used for years. [read more]

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Categories: Assessment
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Tips for New Teachers #6 – More On Responding to Student Writing

posted: 6.10.11 by Andrea Lunsford

In last week’s post, I wrote about responding to drafts of student papers rather than final versions.  I tend to put most of my energy into responding to drafts, because the students can improve them in revision.  When possible, I have a conference with the students within a few days of returning the drafts.  To these conferences, I ask them to bring 1) a response to my comments, 2) questions they want to ask, and 3) a plan for revision.  In 20 or 30 minutes, we can get a lot accomplished face to face!

For final drafts—the ones I put grades on—I slip out of my role as “coach” and into my role as “judge.”  I spend less time on these responses because I have read the essay at least once before.  During this final reading, I concentrate on summing up what the student has done particularly well and on what I want the student to take away from the paper in order to improve the next piece of writing.

At their best, our responses to student writing open up a conversation we can follow through on.  The longitudinal study of writing I’ve been working on for almost a decade has taught me that students often say their greatest breakthroughs in writing improvement come from what our research team calls “dialogic interaction.”   That is, they learn most in an intense and creative give and take.  That’s always what I am aiming for in responding to their work.

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Categories: Teaching Advice
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Is There Any Way to Streamline the Grading Process?

posted: 5.17.11 by Traci Gardner

UntitledI can’t remember when I first heard the story of the teacher who threw student papers down the stairs and assigned grades based on where the papers landed. Everyone seems to know the anecdote, though I don’t know anyone who knows its source. Students usually mention the myth at the same time they share lamentations over papers bleeding with red ink and teachers who write too much (or too little) in response to their work.

It’s the time of year when nearly everyone is thinking of grading, and more than a few of us are wishing for shortcuts and easy solutions. Profhacker’s Jason Jones confesses How He Tricks Himself Into Clearing Grading Backlogs and suggests how to Avoid Grade Appeals. Cliffton Price discusses the predicament of being an adjunct who, according to his original contract anyway, isn’t paid to grade the final pile of work that comes in after the last day of class. Dean Dad, from Inside Higher Ed, discusses the Final Grade Windows between the last day of classes and the deadline for submitting final grades. Janet Johnson explains Grading with the iPad.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything that will streamline the grading process for the current term. There’s no miracle piece of software to robo-check student writing, no magic technique that will get you through the papers faster. What does work is setting expectations early in the term and making assessment part of the explanation of every writing assignment.

Andrea Lunsford gets at that idea in her recent Thinking about Writing Assignments. She shares five guidelines that she considers for every major writing assignment, including one that touches on the outcomes for the assignment:

What are my expectations in terms of length, structure/genre, format, use of sources, and so on? When are drafts and final versions due—and are these deadlines reasonable?

Setting those expectations when you explain an assignment makes the grading process so much easier. As I argued in Designing Writing Assignments, I haven’t finished my work in designing an assignment until it includes details about assessment and provides the support students need to do the work. [read more]

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Paper Two: Possibilities and Problems

posted: 3.24.11 by Barclay Barrios

In a previous post I examined a student paper from the assignment sequence shared in an earlier post as a way to discuss commenting with an eye for promising moments. I think it might be useful to look at a sample of more solid student work, one that also  shows what can go wrong in an assignment.

To refresh your memory, you may want to look at the initial post with the accompanying assignment. And here is the revised version of this paper submitted for a grade . I’ve kept only my end comments in order to share my overall impression of the work.

Kedgeree’s paper is a good example of what students can do with these types of assignments. It represents some of the key skills we try to teach in our writing program: an ability to make an argument, to support it by working with quotations and ideas from the texts, and to do so with an organization that makes sense. It’s not perfect, of course, but it shows a good foundation in these skills.

The other reason I think Kedgeree’s paper is so useful for this blog, though, is that it points out a problem inherent in the assignment. Many of my students formulated arguments that sounded very, very close to the one Appiah makes in his essay. Only after reading through the set of papers did I realize that it was the assignment and not the students that had a problem. I didn’t do a good enough job presenting it so that students could take a position without standing right where Appiah is standing. The lesson? I need to revise just as much as my students do.

How do you handle it when an assignment goes awry?

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Categories: Emerging
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Commenting with Word: The Basics

posted: 3.16.11 by Barclay Barrios

These days I do all of my commenting and grading in Microsoft Word. My hand doesn’t cramp like it does when I put pen to paper. I also like how I am able to save paper and, more importantly, save each copy of a student’s work (in case I want to look back and see how a draft has changed). This image shows the different tools I use and how I use them.

feb23_reading_comments

Mainly I use the Comment feature, which allows me to make marginal comments.  I find this less intrusive to the student’s text. Occasionally I use Track Changes to make edits within a paper, but more often I use the Highlight feature to draw a student’s attention to some error that needs correcting; that way it remains up to the student to figure out what the error is and how to correct it. Track Changes does, however, allow me to make my end comments.

How do you like to comment on student work?  Do you have any electronic tools you prefer?

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Categories: Emerging
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