I’ve posted before on the subject of corrections (see ‘feedbactive’) and am taking a break from a pile of them right now to clear my head and vent ever so slightly, while maintaining a weekly publishing regime.
In other words; procrastinate shamelessly.
Here’s the thing, It takes me anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes to read, assess and comment on a senior English or English Language (a kind of linguistics subject) essay. Multiply this by 20 to 50 and there’s a kind of ‘Dementors kiss’ effect where the temperature drops and all the happiness leaves ones body through close proximity.
I’m neither proud nor happy to admit this because I love my job and I respect my students and the work they do. Still, if I’m honest, I need to admit that corrections are hard work. Here’s why.
There is a decidedly unhelpful ‘reward for effort’ issue involved here. I can measure the time it takes to go through the process of correcting work in minutes. Sadly, the time taken by students to look at this is measurable in seconds. All the underlining, commenting in the margins, careful consideration for what constructive commentary should be offered for improvement is treated as so much Christmas wrapping. Maybe not all but certainly most students tear through this and just look at their grade before ‘filing’ the work away.
Gutting! Not that I’m bitter about it or anything but, if this was all that actually mattered I could fly through my corrections in no time. The mark a piece will get takes virtually no time to establish. It’s all the skill building and constructive commentary that takes time.
Dropping all this effort is not an option so I find I’m increasingly interested in looking at ways to break this vicious cycle.
My latest idea is to play ‘guess what’s in my head’ with my classes. With my latest round of corrections I’ve put away the red pen and picked up a blue highlighter. Wherever I find a word, phrase, idea or grammatical construct I would normally make comment about I have highlighted it but intentionally not written a comment. I have literally highlighted the areas I found noteworthy. Next, in a variation on the activities in mentioned in ‘feedbactive’ students will complete a few simple tasks designed to get them actively thinking about the work they undertook and then I’ll give them the piece back. Their task will then be to re-read their work and consider for themselves what it was I thought was worth highlighting. Once done, each student needs to sit down with me for a minute and conference what they think they’ve learned about their work and present skill level. Then I’ll hand over the assessment sheet complete with my comments and the grade.
Good pedagogical practice? Revenge? Probably a bit of both.
Better get back to the pile. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.