End-of-Semester Grading Strategies

It is that time again! The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and you can almost taste your favorite summer treats. (Watermelon! Mister Softee!) But before you can kick off your shoes and put your feet up for a bit, you’ve got to turn in your grades for the semester.

If you were at the WAC workshop way back in October, you may have already put in place some time and labor-saving strategies like assignment scaffolding, peer review, and rubrics. Even if you did incorporate some or all of these ideas, you may still be facing a pile of papers. Here are some helpful WAC principles that can help you get through your grading and on to summer fun:


  • Focus on higher order concerns                                                                                              Spelling and grammar are important, and we don’t want to minimize that, but in most cases they won’t be the focus of your course. Consider line editing only a portion of a formal written assignment (one paragraph, one page) and using your time and energy to comment on higher order concerns like thesis statements, quality of argument, good use of evidence, logic, organization, and understanding of course material.


  • Develop a key                                                                                                                                          If you are going to be making a lot of markings on written assignments, consider developing a set of symbols and a key to streamline the process. Many of us use paragraph symbols, carets, and other proofreader’s marks, but feel free to expand your repertoire and use any symbols or markings that work for you. You can write up a simple key and attach it to each student paper so that they can easily follow your notations.


  • Rubrics                                                                                                                                                     It isn’t too late to develop a rubric! Even taking a few minutes to sit down and articulate what you are looking for in an assignment can help make your grading process swifter and easier. You can create a grid with elements to check off as either present or not present, a number scale, or anything that reflects your thinking about what constitutes excellent, good, fair, and poor work on a given assignment.


If you want to read more about minimal marking and effective grading the WAC way, you can find a recap of the workshop here, which includes a link to resources.

Happy grading!

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