What happens when you get 16 student papers on a Thursday, grade two on Sunday and not one more through the following Thursday? Well, you get to spend the weekend grading the 14 others, that's what.
Every time I get a batch of papers, I say to myself, "I'm going to grade three of these a day, or at least two, so that it does not become overwhelming and stressful and make me want to weep." Every. Single. Time.
Never once have I actually done that - although one time, last year, I think, I came rather close. But even that seems so vague it may have been a dream.
Why is grading papers so tedious? Here are a few reasons:
- students just disregard various elements of the assignment.
- they ignore your directives. We're not talking about suggestions like, "Maybe consider this angle," but things along the lines of, "Take that summary paragraph out; there's not supposed to be any summary in this paper."
- students don't proofread, and a good bit of their writing sounds like talking, but writing isn't supposed to sound like talking b/c when someone is talking she gives you all sorts of cues and clues that writing does not give you, therefore allowing you to follow the conversation.
And it just takes a long time. Every now and again you get a good paper, one that fulfills the requirements of the assignment with energy and creativity and readable English. Unfortunately, one of those every 7 or 8 papers isn't enough to keep your spirits up.
I don't know if it's like this with upper-level courses; I desperately hope not, though of course there will always be students who don't want to write the paper, don't put effort into it, etc. Sometimes, I can't even blame students in freshman comp. for being disengaged from the material - after enough time teaching this class it's hard not to ask, "Why are we teaching them this?"
But then I start grading the papers, and I realize they've got to improve their writing somehow and sooner rather than later would be ideal.