Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Grading is No Fun

I'm told my exams are not nearly as much fun as I like to think they are.  (It's a very rare occurrence when someone turns in their exam early at my 3-hour final.)  I can say that this year they weren't much fun to grade. 

The issue was the large class size -- the final number was 110 (about twice the size of last year).  You'd think with more TAs it might not take too much longer to grade... but apparently there are non-linearities in there somewhere.  Anyhow, grading took about 6 hours today.  For any students who happen to be reading, I figure they'd appreciate knowing that, at least temporally speaking, I had to suffer about twice as long as they did. 

For faculty types out there, I'm curious... how much grading do you do?  For my undergrad class, I help grade the midterm and final, and take on grading the first programming assignment myself (1 of 8 class assignments).  Is this a lot, a little, more or less normal?  Comments welcome. 


Anonymous said...

I don't grade homeworks anymore. I try to set up programming HWs so they can be graded using a script, and let the TAs hand-grade written HWs.

I have always graded exams myself, because I find it the best way to see what the students really know, and I find it more overhead to train the TAs to give the right partial credit than to do it myself. (I have also never had a class of more than 40 students, though this semester I had two sections of 40 each.)

(As an aside: the time required always amazes me. If I spent 5 minutes grading each exam -- just 5 minutes! -- then grading 80 exams would take 6+ hours.)

This semester, for the first time, I am trying a multiple choice exam given on-line that gets graded automatically. This was a time-saving device (I'm traveling immediate after the exam); I'll have to see how well I feel it captures students' knowledge of the material.

JeffE said...

What is this "more TAs" of which you speak, earthling?

Dave said...

I never graded homeworks, but I helped grade exams in big programming classes (150-200 students), and I graded exams by myself in small theory classes (12-25 students). In each case the grading took 4-6 hours per exam depending on the class size, and we had three exams and a final. I always bought pizza for the TAs during our exam-grading marathons. The pizza seemed to function effectively as Napoleon Bonaparte's "bit of colored ribbon".

In the big programming classes, I felt that I got a decent idea of where the students were at homework-wise by the questions in class and in office hours and on our web-based forum for asking homework questions.

"But doesn't that bias you towards only students that participate in class and/or actively seek help in office hours or on forums?", you might ask. Yes, yes it does.

Peter said...

As a faculty member at four-year teaching-oriented college, the answer to "how much grading do you do?" is "all of it". Everything that is graded is graded by me.

Arka Bhattacharya said...

I am doubtful about the non-linear characteristics which you spoke regarding the grading system? What might be the variables involved for such a characteristic? I think we should think about some poly-time algorithm to solve this issue.It will be a great open problem.

zoren said...

I'm not a teacher but i agree with you.The primary concern of the teacher is the student. they are graded by performance in class and giving grdes to each student is not an easy task. I remember my teacher once said when i fail my exam. if only i can give you high grades i will but it doesnt depent on me, its you who made your grade im here to teach you and your here to learn its all up to you, she said. my point is teachers should not be blame for the failure of the student.what teachers mostly encounter is the parent complains.

Usman said...

I do almost all the grading myself, save for the assignments. In my experience, the time spent on grading a final exam is inversely proportional to the time spent in making the final exam. I always prefer designing conceptual exams which require brief responses, preferably given on the space on question paper. I've always disliked open-ended questions both as a student and now as a faculty member as students tend to write long stories. I actually put a line limit on the answers. But I guess, this also depends on the field, mine being CS.

However, while grading is a headache, I am more worried about exam duties......aaaaaahhhh... this year, I have four 3-hour duty slots as exam invigilator. I really dread those long boring hours, when you really start thinking whether you made the right choice entering academia :)