grading

I recently read this article about grading. Aragon specifically speaks to students about how grades reflect points earned within the course, they do not reflect personal feelings about a student. I would add nor do they necessarily reflect learning, participation, ability to use this information to work toward the job/career students want. I have students who work hard in class, clearly arrive prepared having read the material, participate in discussion, and can’t turn in a paper on time to save their lives. They may write solid A and B papers, but the late submission drops their grades. It could be argued that in the work world submitting reports late, etc could result in loss of job – but is that really what due dates train students for?

Anyway, the discussion I want to have is in relation to grades, feelings and online courses. After reading Aragon’s article I was particularly interested in courses where interactions with the course differ – so large courses and online courses. Do personal feelings become attached to behaviors, interactions, comments and critiques differently, which may influence sense-making surrounding grades differently. My sister is currently completing a master’s program in London. She continues to receive feedback from her advisor on approval paperwork for her thesis project. The feedback is electronic – although my sister meets with this advisor face-to-face as well. In her case, and I don’t consider her overly sensitive, she feels the feedback is harsh, the critiques overly critical, and the rewriting difficult because the standards based on feedback are so high. In this case, yes, stakes are high it’s a master’s project – but the online feedback is influencing her sense-making. I always grade online – and unless I’m teaching an online course I rarely use rubrics so I include extensive feedback discussing the grade and the good and bad of a paper/assignment/essay/etc. Now i’m wondering if even this online feedback is too critical. In cases where I never meet the students, so online courses, do they see the feedback as excessively critical because they don’t know me? In this case I’m more prone to provide too much information to assist the student in future exercises since I can’t provide the same feedback face-to-face.

I haven’t researched extensively in the field of feedback research, but now i’m personally curious – as a grad online professor this summer and next semester – how do grades and comments influence how a student feels within a course? do these feelings influence subsequent assignments positively and negatively depending on the understanding and feelings about previous feedback? i think I’ll just add this to the list of future research project for now, and see what I can do to understand perceptions of feedback in my courses.

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