I know that some teachers actually enjoy grading. They say they find it interesting to see what their students have learned and how they’re doing. I admire that attitude. And it’s certainly true that there is the positive feeling that comes from the occasional observation of student improvement, from either increased effort or better understanding of the material. But apart from that, I was never able to get myself into the frame of mind where I could find grading bearable, much less enjoy it. Why not?
The essay marks handed out by the machines were statistically identical to those from the human graders, says Morgan. “The result blew away everyone’s expectations,” he says. The work was released this week at the conference of the National Council on Measurement in Education in Vancouver, Canada.
It is an important finding, says Morgan, because teachers often do not assign essays because they do not have the time to mark them. He says it should encourage educators to use automated systems more widely.
Les Perelman, who teaches writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says such systems focus on errors of grammar and style but cannot assess meaning. At the Conference of College Composition and Communication in St Louis, Missouri, last month, he described how using the E-Rater software developed by ETS of Princeton, New Jersey, he was able to get high marks for essays that contained properly formed but nonsensical sentences. @ New Scientist
Meaning? What meaning?
I've been working to draft materials for contract grading in the fall. I just posted two documents to EC google docs. These are both drafts, and I borrowed heavily from Jane Danielewicz and Peter Elbow's "A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching" and "Appendix to Unilateral Grading Contract."
I've been debating whether or not to experiment with contract grading next year, so I've been revisiting some familiar discussions on the issue. First, I recently came across this appendix to Peter Elbow's 2009 article in College Composition and Communication. The pdf contains a number of samples from a variety of real classrooms (not just Elbow's) to help you figure out how to craft your own contracts. In addition, here's an interesting, though reductive, piece about grading contacts from ProfHacker.
I know there are some FYWP folks using blogs in their classes, particularly in WR121, so this article from Profhacker about evaluating blogs — and asking students to evaluate their own blogging — could be useful.