There’s a general perception that professors and teachers enter the teaching profession out of love for working with children and young adults. And while this may be true in most cases, the reality of the profession is far more complex than that.
Professors are expected to balance various responsibilities, from research and teaching to service and administration. One of the most time-consuming and often frustrating tasks that professors have to deal with is grading.
The common perception among students is that professors enjoy giving out assignments and other forms of assessment. But contrary to this belief, the assessment process can be quite overwhelming and burdensome for professors. So, is it possible that professors actually hate grading?
The truth is that while grading is necessary in order to give feedback on students’ progress, the sheer volume of scripts to be graded can be overwhelming, and time-consuming, and taking off points from students can also be emotionally draining for professors.
Why Professors Hate Grading
Let’s take a look at why professors dislike grading.
Depending on the class size and the assignment’s length, grading can be very time-consuming. Unfortunately, professors can’t simply assign whatever grades they want to students.
They need to read through each student’s submission before they can accurately and fairly grade them. This can be quite time-consuming in the case of larger classes as professors usually have busy schedules.
But while some professors may resort to leveraging their teaching assistants to grade assignments and other deliverables, others choose to grade every script themselves.
Repetitive And Monotonous
Reading the same assignments over and over again can be very boring. This is particularly true when the professor needs to grade a large number of similar scripts.
Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to stay motivated and focused when grading the same scripts, which can result in inconsistencies and grading errors.
To make the grading process more efficient and reduce the possibility of any grading errors, professors resort to creating rubrics.
However, it still doesn’t mitigate the repetitiveness of grading scripts, especially since the professor may need to give out the same assignments to students each year.
Professors may sometimes find it difficult to separate their personal biases or preferences from the grading process. Keep in mind that this may be unconscious.
While it may be unconscious, the professor’s grading decisions could be influenced depending on their relationship or impressions of the students.
Professors may also unconsciously grade well students they’ve identified to perform highly while grading underperforming students poorly.
To avoid this, professors resort to leveraging objective grading criteria such as rubrics or grading guidelines.
The professor knows that the grades they assign students could result in the student passing or failing the class. Depending on the situation, some students may even lose their financial aid which can negatively impact their future opportunities.
To put it simply, the professor is aware that although they’re doing their jobs fairly, their actions may also have an impact on a student.
This stress is compounded in cases where students underperform in examinations that contribute a large portion of their grades.
Assignments and other academic deliverables help professors determine the level of comprehension of students and decide the best way forward.
Professors are expected to provide effective feedback on students’ submissions. This feedback helps students understand their strengths and weaknesses and improve their performance in the future.
Unfortunately, providing detailed feedback for each individual student can be a time-consuming and challenging task, especially in the case of larger classes or complex assignments.
No Clear-Cut Answers
Some assignments require students to analyze some information in a subjective manner and present their findings.
Such assignments can be difficult to grade as professors need to thoroughly read through individual deliveries as there may be no clear-cut answers.
There may also be cases where students may have made valid arguments that demonstrate a thorough understanding of the subject matter but may not have met the established criteria for the assignment. Grading such deliveries may be challenging for professors.
Professors sometimes experience burnout from grading especially when various other responsibilities require their attention.
They may be teaching more than one school, managing research projects, or providing mentorship to students, all while also attempting to keep up with grading assignments.
This can lead to exhaustion which may contribute to a decline in the quality of feedback they may provide students.
To avoid burnout, some professors relegate activities like grading to their teaching assistants.
There’re various factors that can result in a large grading backlog for professors, the most popular being a high volume of assignments.
While most professors ensure that they set a specific time to grade assignments and other deliverables before they pile up, their busy schedules sometimes leave them with a backlog of ungraded assignments.
This can become a major source of stress and anxiety especially since they may be feeling guilty about not keeping up with their responsibilities and the impact it would have on their students.
Additionally, giving timely feedback makes it possible for students to review their mistakes. Late feedback on multiple assignments at the same time would make it difficult for students to go back to previous lessons in addition to current ones.
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Strategies For Effective Grading
While it may not be the most fun activity, grading shouldn’t be a herculean task for professors. Various strategies can be employed to make it enjoyable and rewarding.
Modern technology makes assessment easy for professors. With various software tools on the market including quiz applications, grading assignments has never been easier.
Professors can save time, by leveraging these tools for multiple-choice questions, or even calculations. These tools also have the added advantage of reducing any worries of unconscious biases and human errors in the grading process.
Some of these tools even leverage natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to grade short-answer and essay questions.
However, it’s always advisable to review such grades to ensure accuracy as these systems aren’t perfect.
Use rubrics, grading checklists, and other tools to prevent any form of bias in the grading process. Rubrics offer a precise and objective set of standards for grading tasks and can be utilized to give students feedback.
Using a checklist also provides a list of items that the professor expects to be included in the assignment, and also helps ensure that all aspects of the assignment are graded.
By allowing for self-evaluation, peer review, and joint development of grading standards, professors can involve students in the grading procedure.
In addition to encouraging a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning, this can aid in the development of students’ critical thinking abilities.
Once students have reviewed and evaluated each other’s submissions, they can be turned in to the professor for confirmation.
Professors should set specific times for grading student submissions to ensure that students receive timely feedback.
Before students move on to other topics, it’s essential that they have an understanding of their mistakes and the areas where they need improvement the most.
Communicate Grading Criteria
To ensure that students know what is expected of them, professors should communicate their grading standards to their students. Additionally, these standards should also be consistently applied across all assignments to ensure accuracy and fairness.