Mowshowitz INSTRUCTIONS FOR GRADERS Last Update 06/26/2015
1. Use Red Ink. (If student writes in red, use another contrasting color.)
2. Make the exam hard to alter after it's been graded. (Recommended items are nice, but are probably not feasible if there are too many papers.)
A. Mark where the writing ends. Circle the areas filled with explanations, or cross out the empty spaces, so no additional comments can be added. (Be sure to do this for all answers written on backs of pages too.)
B. Mark all correct & incorrect answers. Put an X through any wrong answers, and a check on correct answers. Recommended: If no answer was circled, or circled answer was incorrect, circle the right one.
C. Check the backs. Either put a red line or X on all blank backs, or circle all writing on the back (& be sure it was graded). Recommended: After you have graded all the tests, go through and check the backs to be sure you didn't miss any answers.
3. Make it clear that you read everything -- put as many red marks on the page as possible. Put a "yes", check mark or plus if answer is correct; put an X or "no" for each glaring error even if you don't deduct points for it. (You don't need to write detailed answers; see 5 below.) Students put a lot of effort into exams, and they get (justifiably) upset if they think you didn't read their paper carefully.
4. Make the grading scheme as clear as possible. Details will depend on the instructor. Here is one method:
A. Show how points were awarded or deducted. For example, put a check mark or "+2" for each correct item worth 2 points, a "+1" for each item worth 1 pt. Write "-1" or "-2" if you deducted for errors. If item was correct but irrelevant, you can just ignore it or write "true" or something else that makes it clear that it's right but not worth points.
B. Total each question. When you are done with each individual question or part, total up the points -- if you used a consistent check system that will be easy. If question is worth 10 points, and student got it half right, write 5/10, not +5 or -5. (It usually works best to write the total for each question on the same side of the page. That is, write all the numbers on the left or all on the right. That way it is easier to add them up without missing any.)
C. Total the page. When you are finished marking all the questions on the page, add up the total for the whole page and put it on the top right hand corner. For the page total, you can write "24" or 24/34, which ever you want.
5. If students will get a key with correct answers, you don't need to supply the right answers. However it is a good idea to mark incorrect statements or points so students can easily spot the place where they went wrong. For example, you might write "no" next to an incorrect statement or circle specific errors such as "acidic" when they should have written "basic." (You can write explanations of why they are wrong, but you don't have to if students will get a key, and it's very time consuming.)
Do not put a big red X over a whole long answer unless it is total and absolute nonsense -- usually the answer is partially right (if irrelevant) and students take it as a big insult if you cross out the whole thing.
6. Be as consistent as possible, and keep a record of how you did it -- 2 points off for this, +5 for that, etc. When you are done grading, give your record to the instructor along with the key s/he gave you. These documents are needed for regrades.
7. Hints to speed up grading:
A. Grade one question or one part of a question at a time. Go through all the papers grading just the answer to say, question 1, part A. Then go back and grade all the answers to part B. It is often faster (and the grading is easier and more consistent) if you do it this way. However, if the number of papers is very large, it may be faster to go through the stack only once, grading one whole page at a time. Recommended if there are a lot of papers: Go through the first 20 papers or so grading just the answer to say, question 1, part A. Then go back and do the same for part B, and then part C, etc., until you have done all the questions on one page, and are confident you know how to grade each question or part. Then go through the stack once, one page at a time.
B. Skip the difficult answers and come back to them. If the answer on a particular paper is very long or complicated, and requires a lot of thinking, skip that paper and come back to it after you have graded all the other papers. You can lay the "sticky" paper aside, or put a yellow post-it on it if you want to keep the papers in order. It is usually faster to grade all the answers that are obviously right or wrong first, and then come back and grade the sticky ones. If you skip the 'sticky' paper (temporarily), you will probably find more examples of the same reasoning, and it will be much easier to know what to do, and to be consistent, after you have read several, similar, unexpected answers.
8. Avoid double jeopardy -- Try not to take off for the same mistake more than once. If a student gets something wrong the first time, take off. If the student then uses the wrong answer to figure out a second question, don't take off for the second question as long as the reasoning (in the 2nd question) is correct, and the answers are not absolutely ridiculous. For example, suppose the student says you get 4 ATP/glucose in glycolysis for part A and then s/he uses that number to calculate the relative ATP yields plus and minus oxygen in part B. S/he has the wrong answer for part A and will get the wrong answer in part B too. You should take off points for part A but not for part B as long as all the reasoning in part B is right except for the value carried over from part A. (Not every instructor follows this principle of "no double jeopardy" but students appreciate it very much.) There are situations where it is okay to take off for both parts, for example, if the answer to B is so ridiculous that anyone who thought about the answer (as opposed to just plugging in) would notice.