Friday, December 14, 2007

Grading Hell

Grading is hell...HELL...

Sometimes it can be interesting to grade papers for upper-division classes...but grading essays or papers for lower-division classes is just about the most mind-numbing mental task I've ever had to perform. Don't get me wrong...I'm not really's more like just expressing amazement. My god grading suuuuuucks! SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!!

I guess it's the punishment for that fact that being a professor is an otherwise fairly sweet gig.

Actually, the awfulness of grading also explains part of the grade inflation problem: if you give everybody 'A's and 'B's, you don't really have to grade. Just a quick glance and a scribble, and the next thing you know you're back to working on that next paper in order to get a better job and climb up the academic the point where you basically don't have to teach or grade anymore.


O.k. Back to it.


Blogger Random Michelle K said...

You have my sympathy. My Dad pretty much has to be shut at home for several days until he gets all his projects graded.

This also reminds me why so many professors around here have switched to computer based testing; you finish the exam it is immediately graded and the student immediately see how they did.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I know...but all-multiple-choice exams are bad. this is, I think, one reason why so many students graduate without being able to write (or think).

3:25 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I deal with health professionals schools, so they're supposed to learn writing from their other classes.

I mean, writing is all well and good, but medical professionals really need to recognize and @ss from a hole in the ground.

Plus to learn to perform their own anal cranial extractions.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

One of my favorite teachers used standardized multiple-choice tests. Author X says a), b), or c).

That was your grade, and separate from everything else. All the classroom work was discussion and all the good stuff that makes someone a favorite teacher.

He never let our schooling interfere with our education.

[I doubt that helps you much, WS, but it was brilliant.]

5:56 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"I mean, writing is all well and good, but medical professionals really need to recognize and @ss from a hole in the ground."

Well, see, there's the difference between medical types and philosophers...

Though I WILL say:
Writing is closely associated with reasoning, and many students I encounter--science students too--have memorized a bunch of stuff but can't think clearly about it.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS notes that "many students I encounter--science students too--have memorized a bunch of stuff but can't think clearly about it."

I teach almost nothing but science and engineering students at MIT and a surprising fraction of them fit this description, sad to say.

The ones that can think and *do* think are a joy to teach.

12:08 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

One of my best friends' girlfriend is a biology student and is very intelligent - tons of content knowledge, but man she's terrible at making arguments.

You'd never know she was so intelligent if you merely read a paper she wrote. She holds weird positions for very poor reasons.

One of the sad consequences of middle and high schools free of philosophy and critical thinking classes.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Since it's statistically provable that the large majority of teachers are left and far-left, perhaps the students aren't to blame for not developing critical thinking skills. GIGO.

Me, I'd rather schooling put a large base of facts into young heads; they can sort them all out after they escape their teachers.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

Sorry, I forgot to turn my sarcasm warning on.

That was sarcasm. Hence the anal cranial extraction.

Hope you're done with grading now and enjoying a nice long "winter break"

9:23 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

No, I get it, MK.

I just thought it was funny.

Still more day...

9:34 AM  
Blogger lovable liberal said...

If you don't get children thinking as they learn from as early an age as possible, they'll never shake off the rote regurgitation of factoids or, at best, the ability to solve exactly the class of problem that you've taught them. They'll never grasp the meaning in the equation.

Teachers matter, but for the most part parents are decisive. If they permit their children to follow the truth, their children may try to understand how things work instead of how their parents and teachers want them to work. The academically free approach is perfectly encapsulated in Richard Feynman's title, What Do You Care What Other People Think?. I was blessed with a mom who introduced me to Darwin at age eleven (me, not her!). (She was a public school educator and also an exceptional mentor.)

None of my teachers were going to do this. They were too conservative (in the South a long time ago), too unable themselves to question their social conditioning.

I went to college with a botanist who told me that in no case could a blackberry be considered a berry because botany classified blackberries as drupes (actually, an aggregate of drupelets, but nevermind). No amount of lexicography could move her off that dogma to a more open-minded view that words have different and still legitimate senses. She teaches high school science now, hopefully with a little more perspective.

Since I knew this botanist at Harvard, for chrissake, my result matches jimbales's for elite institutions. Critical thinking appears to be as damn rare in them as everywhere else.

8:45 PM  

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