When the revised versions of assignments come in, the instructor shifts from the role of coach or consultant to that of evaluator.
An important and ongoing PWR project has been an in-depth discussion of grading criteria and practices, working toward a clearer consensus about how to assign fair and consistent grades across the program.
Suggestions For Successful Evaluation
- Clarify expectations: provide students with the PWR evaluation criteria in your syllabus and discuss these criteria in class. You will probably want to develop specific criteria tailored to each assignment.
- Plan your workload so you can respond to final drafts within a week after receiving them.
- You do not need to comment as extensively on the revision as on the draft.
- Indicate where the revision is most strengthened and say why the revision has been successful; also note where the essay still has weaknesses and note the cause of those weaknesses.
- Note errors in mechanics, punctuation, and so on, in accordance with your stated policies. Most PWR instructors insist that students proofread and edit their essay carefully before submitting it and also note in their evaluation criteria sheet that such mistakes will take a toll on grades.
- Write a succinct final response: since the students cannot revise further, extensive recommendations for improvement can simply frustrate them. Instead, summarize the two or three specific things the essay does best and note at least one element that the student should concentrate on in the next assignment. (Do not, however, come up with a whole new list of weaknesses or problems you didn’t mention in the draft!)
- Give praise where it is due. You may also want to comment on the hard work a student has done in revision.
- Review the grades for the entire set of revisions. Grade inflation is widespread at Stanford.
- Return all written assignments directly to students. Do not leave graded essays in a folder, basket, or box outside your office or near the PWR mailboxes. Doing so disregards student privacy and violates PWR/University policy and federal law. Consider grading electronically, returning PDFs to students. For returning drafts electronically, consider using the CourseWork Dropbox, which can only be seen and accessed by you and the student.
Sommers, Nancy. “Responding to Student Writing.” The St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing. Eds. Cheryl Glenn and Melissa Goldthwaite. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 333-341.