Thursday, May 08, 2008

Land Speed Record

If you heard a sonic boom yesterday at about 5, it was me and my turbo grading pen. Just in time to meet my students for their last class, I graded 16 reflective papers, four group projects, and 4 extra credit response papers. [For the record, I'm usually averse to e.c.; in this case, there were bizarre extenuating circumstances.]

I do not recommend this kind of binge grading to anyone. It melts your brain, and brings on carpal tunnel symptoms, and has the tendency to inspire rage both murderous and suicidal. There is also no margin for error. If there had been any suspicion of plagiarism, for example, I would have been hosed---no time to start googling random passages here, the clock is ticking!

But it is a sweet, sweet thing to hand back a stack of papers to students, complete with their final grades. There is, of course, always the last minute hail mary pass, the tearing eyes, the whining. But---and this is a huge but (like mine is, now, if the giant ass groove on my couch from whence the grading marathon took place is any indication), once that happens, it's generally over. As in, I get very few---like two per semester, if that---emails or phone calls disputing the final grade. It doesn't hurt that I also hand out a spreadsheet to them with every single grade they've received over the course of the semester, including daily participation. [For that, I thank a little program called Micrograde, and Lee, who introduced me to it after she moved away and no longer programmed my Excel spreadsheet formulas for me.] There was a moment at which I was afraid that giving students the numbers would give them room to negotiate every single point (but I made THREE comments that day, not TWO!), but I've found that for the most part, they are either awed by the sheer volume of numbers, or else by the fact that I quantify everything. It's a bizarre thing: I'm not one for quantification, but it seems to calm student fears that everything is arbitrary. On some level, I think that the managing the psychology of student teacher power dynamics is more important than the grade itself, for all that we criticize students about their focus on grades.

I originally intended this as the celebratory post of "I'm mostly done!" [Mostly, because of course there are stragglers, and random tasks. Like departmental assessment of seniors. F*&$.] Instead, it's turned into a post on how I manage to reduce the post-class grade panic and the unsavory interactions that usually accompany it. I think I'd account for the slippage in this way: we're not really done until the students accept their grades. And thus, sometimes, grading is not the end.

Good luck to all! The end is in sight!

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Blogger Ashley said...

Wait wait wait--DAILY participation grade? Eeeeeenteresting.

Oh, and yay for being done!

Thursday, May 08, 2008 9:57:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Oh yes, you heard me. I'm 'bout it 'bout it.

yay indeed, although it's not like I'm knitting stuff, productive girl!

Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:29:00 AM  

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