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5 strategies to make online assessment grading a breeze

Online assessment grading isn’t easy, and it certainly doesn’t feel easier now during a global pandemic.

Feelings of burnout, general apathy, or a lack of motivation by the thought of grading another stack of papers is a natural feeling, right now. Nevertheless, there are ways to make it feel like less of an overwhelming burden.

This post will examine some strategies that will help both new and veteran instructors speed up their online grading workload effectively, thus alleviating some of the stress that can come with a mountain of exams, tests and essays.

1. Break your stack of papers into smaller piles

The initial thought of just moving papers, or digital assignments, into a smaller pile of papers may sound silly. However, much like a project plan that tackles smaller goals in the more significant project, the mentality is the same. Don’t treat a large stack of papers or reports as an entire stack. Break down the pile into more manageable chunks. This psychological hack can make grading feel less daunting.

If it’s easier, try grading a particular short answer question consecutively in an exam or test, working through a stack of student papers, but only grading one specific problem at a time. This way, you can focus on the significant points of just one question. Crowdmark breaks assessments down question by question to allow chunking by an instructor or a whole grading team.

2. Focus on a particular point of feedback

Some instructors tend to provide as much feedback as possible when grading an assignment. However, students may feel encouraged to do better by having one central feedback point for next time.

For example, if you’re grading students on an essay, focus on the problem that perhaps underlay the entire assignment. Maybe a weak thesis? One major tip that can be the groundwork to do better may go the distance, rather than a series of smaller feedback points. Use Crowdmark’s comment tool to provide images, links and rich feedback right in the student’s graded work.

3. When appropriate, shorthand your feedback

With the above in mind, shorthanded feedback may take the form of simple phrases such as “be more specific” or “re-work this section.” These phrases are more like prompts and are best used when dealing with students capable of producing high-quality work but seem distracted or unmotivated. It’s also sensible to use when the assignment is focused more on students’ expression and thoughts than practicing technical skills.

Ultimately, when you use this technique, it can genuinely save you much time and effort. Sometimes just a few words will do the trick. With Crowdmark, you can notate these types of abbreviations using the freeform annotation tool or a comment library of drag-and-drop annotations.

4. Let your students do some of the grading

Does this seem counterintuitive? While students can’t grade their final research paper, assignments that use peer evaluations are vital to students learning how to self-edit.

Alternatively, a group assignment may also include a peer evaluation form for group members to submit to the instructor at the end. A peer feedback form helps a group member keep themselves accountable to their group members while also giving you an inside look from their peers on how committed each student was to the group collective. You can use Crowdmark’s group assessment tool to have students submit their collaborations for grading.

With the above examples as a framework, you can use peer evaluations to factor in a final grade for your students in conjunction with other assessment criteria.

5. Automate your grading with a streamlined grading tool

Like many instructors worldwide, you’re likely dealing with a substantial amount of digital submission or assignments. The pandemic has led to a global shift into remote learning and distance education for millions of students worldwide.

The solution to this problem is to use a platform that allows you to grade and provide feedback to assignments in one centralized hub or location. In addition to the tools already mentioned, We’ve packed Crowdmark with features that allow instructors to streamline their workflows. Our grading tool can remove some of the most time-consuming steps involved in assessments.

Don’t let grading be the bane of online teaching

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to approach online grading, consider using these five strategies where appropriate. The right combination of these techniques will help reduce the amount of time and effort you spend on grading assignments.