As Brian mentioned earlier this week, grading is not always our favorite part of the job, but there are some things we can do to make our lives a little easier.
We previously discussed some grading tips and tricks in previous posts (find them here and here and in this guest post here) that could apply to writing assignments. Some of those include setting a time limit per assignment, grading by section (if you are grading a paper with multiple sections), and grading a small amount of papers at a time to break down the big task into smaller ones. Another strategy discussed in those earlier posts is creating and using quality rubrics.
Rubrics are useful for a variety of reasons. They can make grading more efficient for instructors because it requires you to think critically about point delegation beforehand. Rubrics also help make grading more fair. Detailed rubrics give us a standard to hold to, preventing us from taking off different amounts of points for the same error, which reduces discrepancies in students’ grades.
If students have the rubric at their disposal when they’re working on the assignment, they can use that information to guide their effort. For example, by seeing how many points are delegated to organization and clarity, the student will know to put more thought and effort into organizing their writing. This not only helps the students, but also makes our lives easier when we are grading. It is always easier to grade good papers than to poorly written ones!
After papers have been graded, rubrics also give students a clear idea of what they did well, and what they need to work on. Rubrics provide students a clear breakdown of where they missed points, which can be particularly helpful when students ask questions about their grade. They know where to direct attention based on where they missed points on the rubric.
Finally (and maybe most importantly?), rubrics can be an excellent tool for self-assessment. In a guest post, Eric Landrum made a thoughtful comparison of grading and assessment:
In his guest post, he details how rubrics can be modified to not only meet grading needs, but to also meet our assessment needs. Remember, student performance is affected by so much more than just their effort and ability. If all of my students score poorly on a certain section of an assignment, it tells me that I (as the instructor) have room for improvement. Maybe my instructions were unclear, or maybe we need to spend more time on that topic in class. We, just like our students, always have room for improvement. Check out his post for more details, but rubrics don’t just have to grade students. They can also grade your instruction!
Do you use rubrics in your classes? Want to see examples of our rubrics? What to share your super effective rubrics? Let us know! Comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org