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I didn’t do the math November 24, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in teaching.
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I came to a horrifying realization this weekend: I should not have assigned final projects for my class.  Or at least not this one.

I decided to actually use a textbook this year after being sent a review copy of one that lined up very closely with many things I was already teaching.  I pretty much stuck to my original plans for the class, except I made one big change.  I got rid of the programming project, deciding that I really didn’t have time to teach them much other than how to get really frustrated.

There are some assignments that come along with the textbook, and one of them is a 10-15 page essay on goal setting.  It’s a great project.  Students are given a list of several areas that affect a student in both major and minor ways (including thinking forward to what they’ll be doing after school).  The students are supposed to reflect on where they are and where they want to be.  Then they’re supposed to do some goal setting and try to figure out how they can get closer to the ideal that they outlined.

This might be a good project if I had 30 students.  I have almost 100.  And each paper is 10-15 pages long, so we’ll say 12 on average.  That’s about 1200 pages of reading I have to do.  I have two weeks to grade them, so I figured if I did 10 projects per day, I’d be good.  That’s about 120 pages per day.

I got started Friday but progress was limited due to our weekly family activities that occur Friday night.  I figured I would make up the difference yesterday, but came to an awful realization: grading projects is a lot more time consuming than grading programs.

I discovered that reading reports/projects, is really not much better than reading novels. I am an abysmally slow reader; I’ve never been able to figure out how to skim.  When I read a novel, I generally read at a 25 page/hour pace.  That’s about what I’m doing with the reports, too.  I can read about two in an hour…three if they’re shorter and I’m really cruising.  This means I’m spending about 4 hrs/day over the next two weeks to just grade this assignment.  Next fall, I either have to drastically shorten this assignment or do it far earlier in the semester.

I suppose it’s just deserts.  My students were very freaked out when I gave them the assignment and only three weeks to do it.  (Although, to be honest, I believe about 2/3 of them did it within a couple days before the assignment was due.)  If they knew I was regretting assigning it now, they probably wouldn’t be able to contain their schadenfreude.

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Comments»

1. amandasturgill - November 26, 2013

As someone who grades a lot of writing, I strongly suggest resisting the urge to correct grammar and other mechanics, as this will make your grading much faster. I read with a highlighter in my hand and highlight spots with those problems (makes me feel better, I think), but I don’t correct that stuff, looking for big picture stuff instead.

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