One of the frustrations you hear frequently from people in higher ed is that grading writing is hard. I love so many things about my job, but grading writing is not one of them, not at all. This semester I thought I'd try something new. I thought I'd offer my students optional formative feedback over the course of the semester for an assignment due in December. Everybody would need to turn in the intro and bibliography to get the ball rolling, but then they'd have total freedom to decide how much of my input they wanted on the remaining four elements of the assignment.
Yesterday I spent hours grading that first batch of optional submissions. I got a lot done, but it took more of a toll on me than I expected. I came home as crabby as all get-out and I still haven't quite recovered. I didn't have a long list of things to do today, but hardly any of them are done. Lesson learned for the future: spending a big chunk of the day immersed in student writing necessitates some recovery time afterward.
The next batch of optional submissions is due on Friday. I need a better strategy. In the shower this morning I figured out the rubric I will use next time -- maybe that will help? This is the first time I've offered formative feedback and there's a tricky balance between telling them succinctly to rephrase and showing them directly how they could make the writing tighter and clearer. The latter, obviously, can be a giant time suck.
Huh, I wonder which choice predicts a happier day tomorrow: moaning on the internet about the job I am lucky and usually delighted to have, or getting my sorry self to bed? Any tips on grading student writing in a way that is both helpful to them and efficient for me would be most welcome.