Dispatches from grading hell.

November 27, 2007

Well, we’ve come to *that* point in the semester.

I am in the middle of a batch of 23 short (3-5pp) papers. I have graded 11 of them so far. The students really must get them back on Thursday, because they have a big research paper due in two weeks, and they really need the feedback on this last short paper before they turn their full attention to the longer one.

On Thursday, I am getting about 18 more, slightly longer (4-6pp), papers from a different class, and then perhaps 6 more on Monday from the people who requested an extended deadline. Those papers ideally will need to be graded by next Monday, but probably won’t be completely finished until Thursday, December 6th. Oh, and I’m sitting on a batch of 20 one-page responses from that class that I should have returned already. Those have fallen to the bottom of the queue, though.

The only good thing about grading the current batch of papers is that many of them are revisions of a prior paper, so they are easy to get through. About two thirds are revisions, and one third address a new topic. Doing the revisions first has allowed me to get through a lot of papers fast, even though I didn’t even begin grading until 11:00am today.

I also do something that many other academics swear by–saving the better papers for last. That way, as you get more exhausted from grading, the grading gets easier, because the papers overall are better towards the end. I grade in sets of three at a time before taking a break (you know, to check email or eat a snack or post to my blog), and I’m at the point, now, where the next set of three contains the last really “bad” papers in the batch. The really GOOD papers are still far away, papers #20, 21, 22, 23 or thereabouts, but papers #12 and 13 are the last of the groan-worthy ones. Paper 14 promises to be decent, as a reward for getting through #12 and #13. And then from there everything should be a bit more bearable.

Is this the most boring post ever? I’m sure it is. Sorry. But here’s something exciting: my RE appointment is tomorrow morning! Expect a full report this weekend, when hopefully I will have more time to blog.

Okay, I’m heading back in to suffer through paper #12, which promises to be just AWFUL. Sigh.

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