Rules For Grading Essays

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Grading is one area where Imposter Syndrome likes to rear its ugly head.

You will have finished reading a paper and then start to doubt that you’ve given it an appropriate grade. It’s very common in research essays to see that same mistake made more than once.

I usually place a comment to the effect of: “I would strongly recommend that you review the requirements for this assignment, which can be found on the Research Assignment Instructions sheet.” I find that this is firm, but fair.

Save your energy for the students who really put effort into their papers, even when they don’t succeed.

It really does help make the grading feel achievable while also ensuring that you are giving your mind a break every one in a while.

Once you’ve finished your batch, either set them aside in a different location or put a tick or some kind of mark on them so you can easily tell that they are all finished.This is not high school, and it is not your job to find every single mistake on an essay and correct it.Instead, identify the problem, and give your student an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned. If it’s a serious issue, I always recommend that students go see the Writing Centre.If you are dealing with a paper on the borderline between one grade and the next, or your paper is within 1 to 2% of rolling to the next letter grade, then just bump the grade.It’s always better to err on the side of generosity.Either there are no footnotes or bibliography, the essay is 3 pages when it was supposed to be 8, or the student just completely ignored your instructions.In other words, it’s obvious that the student just doesn’t care. If your student can’t be bothered to read the instructions, then you have no obligation to spend your precious time marking the paper.For example, one that I use a lot is “While I can see that you are trying to make an argument here, you spend too much time describing or summarizing your sources rather than analysing them.In general, you should avoid description as much as possible.” The time and frustration you will save is immeasurable Odds are you will receive several papers on a given topic.It’s not your job to teach them how to write (unless it’s a composition class, in which case, good luck!) You’ll notice that after a while, you will repeat the same sentences over and over again.


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