There’s more to grading than students think

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Illustration by Miles Huffman

I used to be one of those students who was quietly disappointed when a professor announced that our papers were not yet ready to be handed back. Sure, most professors have what we could call a “real life” outside of their class times and office hours, but I wanted to know what I got on that paper.

Would it be covered in red ink like a victim of academic assault? Would it simply and quietly bear a hastily scribbled and circled letter indicating whether or not it passed? Would I find angrily written “WTHs” and “WTFs” at certain points?

What did I get?!

Then I had the privilege to become a Teaching Apprentice for my department. Oh. My. God. We only had 15 or 16 students in this senior-level research class but I quickly had to come to grips with grading being extremely time consuming and not easy at all.

Think about a 10 page paper that you turn in.

There are 35 students in your class, that’s 350 pages, virtually a book to read. Now try to visualize reading all of those and providing compliments and constructive feedback for each.

In the meantime:

  • Full-time faculty teach four to five classes a semester.
  • Many of our lecturers and associate faculty teach at other colleges.
  • Faculty participate in committees, meetings, task forces, programs and campus initiatives and/or have roles as academic or student organization advisors.
  • Oh, and there’s still that thing called a “real life” to participate in too.

As students we’re very busy. So are our faculty so let’s give them a break. Just a little one.

Joseph Rogers can be reached at [email protected] or @josephlrogers1 on Twitter.