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Efficient And Effective Grading Of Student Work

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Effective & Efficient Teaching Skills

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.521.1 - 11.521.19



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Paper Authors

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Eric Larson Seattle University

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Agnieszka Miguel Seattle University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Efficient and Effective Grading of Student Work


As new engineering educators, we are faced with countless responsibilities that compete for our valuable time. Grading student work is one of these new tasks that we all have to undertake. While grading is often a tedious and time consuming task, it is important for students to receive a fair assessment of their work accompanied by constructive feedback. Like many aspects of engineering, grading can be thought of as an optimization problem: maximize student learning while minimizing the grading time. In this paper, we provide advice for new faculty on how to improve grading efficiency without sacrificing its effectiveness; in other words “how to save time while grading”.

Tips are presented for different types of student work found in engineering courses. For each type of graded activity, we encourage the faculty member to think about grading before handing it out to students. Poorly designed questions or assignments can lead to unnecessarily long and difficult grading. We also suggest methods that reduce the time spent on grading student work but still accurately assess the students’ progress. Overall, the techniques presented in this paper are designed to help to make the grading process more efficient while remaining constructive and fair to the students.

1. Introduction

Grading is an important responsibility for all educators. Assessing the work of a student is a key component of the learning process. If done effectively, students can gauge how well they comprehend the course material, learn from past mistakes, and be motivated to learn even more.

The main purpose of grading is to assess the student with respect to the course objectives and outcomes. This process can be divided into two tasks. The first task is to design course activities in a manner such that students can meet the course objectives and the instructor is able to assess the students’ progress. The second task is to accurately measure the students’ achievement of the objectives (either for a particular question, an assignment, or for the whole course). There are a variety of different ways of measuring student progress. For instance, assessment can be done with respect to a standard developed by the instructor or it could be done with respect to other students in the course by curving the grades. In either case, great care must be done to make sure the assigned grades reflect the level of understanding of each student.

To accurately assess students, it is important to remain fair to all students. Being unfair or inconsistent will often lead to inaccurate evaluations. While almost all educators strive to be unbiased during grading, it is possible to be inconsistent during grading without necessarily being aware of the issue. If two students submit the same solution to a problem, they should receive the same grade. In order to achieve consistency, it is necessary to give the same scrutiny for all students to a particular question. For instance, a professor wants to finish grading an exam before class but needs to rush through the last exams quickly in order to meet the deadline. Exams at the bottom of the stack will get less attention and more inaccurate grades than exams

Larson, E., & Miguel, A. (2006, June), Efficient And Effective Grading Of Student Work Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--674

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