I Corrected It Myself

I grade my own students’ lab reports. In truth, I do this because when I started teaching ten years ago, I had about a dozen students in Organic Chemistry. Lately, I have found that assignments and grading methods that I had developed for small class sizes were too labor intensive for larger classes. One common way to decrease the correcting load is to have teaching assistants that grade laboratory assignments. I’m not so sure that I want to go this route. The obvious reason that pops into my brain is that TAs can’t be trusted to grade well. This probably shows more bias than rationality, but it is true that a certain amount of TA training would be necessary for consistent and accurate grading. I wonder if the type of question I would ask would have to change. I assume that I would have to build the expectation of student grading into my questions. On the other hand, do I gain something from grading student papers? Assignments are a way for students to offer feedback to instructors. From grading assignments I discover: 1) what concepts the students are struggling with, 2) how they could be further challenged, 3) whether or not they understand the question the way I intended it, and 4) where they are getting their information from. I also learn thing about students and about the material that I didn’t know before. It is arrogant to assume that I cannot learn from my students. The thing is, I would miss the opportunity to understand my students better and to see if I could learn something new.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    My increasing organic chemistry class size several years ago is what got me motivated to get into WebCT and automated grading. Now my classes are ofter over 200 students and I am glad I made the shift. But a lab would be challenging to grade automatically.


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