Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

Hemmed In Like a Bore

I'm still in the middle of seemingly endless grading. And grading is an activity I like less than almost anything on the planet. I'd rather scrub the inside of a toilet bowl with a toothbrush, to be honest. That makes me tired and perhaps a little high on cleaning fumes. But it doesn't make me feel as stupid as grading does. I like most of my students, too. I have some incredibly smart ones this semester, not to mention a host of others whom I respect for working hard. What makes me feel stupid is not so much the fact that I have to read sentences that I would never make public myself, though that does temporarily diminish my own capacity to write, but the realization that grading, at least in the humanities, is far too inexact to be considered a science. I do my very best to treat students equally, while also making allowances for their individual characteristics. Still, the fact remains that I spend more time on the first few papers in a stack than the ones on the bottom and, further, that the longer I spend grading a paper, the less likely I am to approve of it. I have techniques for mitigating this bias. I make sure that the person I grade first for one assignment is the person I grade last on the next. I pick a random paper at various points in the stack and set a timer so that I am sure to give it extra scrutiny. I even read quickly through the entire stack and reorder it so that the papers with more problems are on top. For all that, though, I rarely feel that the grading of papers and exams leads to a decisive judgment student work. On the contrary, I usually end up having to fall back on class participation, the category in which my own subjective preferences loom largest. It's enough to make me wish that I never had to grade like this again. Wishes aside, it 's more than enough to prod me into giving higher grades than I would like simply because I want to correct for my own potential bias.
Tags: autobiography, everyday, health
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