How I reduced the time I spent explaining grades given to my students


My name is Wonder Fulidea, and I am a teacher in a course where there are about 40 students. The course is organized twice a semester. Students are required to do four essay-type assignments. I have given as detailed instructions as I can. There I also explain what I expect from the students.

I used to give students short feedback and a grade for all their assignments, but after every assignment, many students asked me via email why they got the grade they got. Some of them even asked what they should have done to get a better grade. (Well, not as many as I would have liked.) Anyway, it took me a lot of time to answer all those emails. I began thinking what to do, how to make grading and evaluation more transparent to the students. Then I heard about a rubric grading possibility in MyCourse’s assignment activity. “Maybe that is something worth trying,” I thought. I listed all the necessary criteria required for the first essay. There were four. I then created a scale: I decided to use a five-step scale (1–5), and the sixth is zero. The zero grade is needed so that the rubric calculates grades correctly. Creating the rubric took me quite a lot of time, but when I started to work on the rubric for second essay, I realized that I could use almost the same rubric.

I decided to add the rubric in the assignment description so that my students could see what I expected from them. I also explained the system to them. Essay one: grading was easy and quite quick: I only clicked on the appropriate grade box in the rubric, and in some special cases I wrote a short comment. Thus, students received a lot of feedback on their assignment. After the second assignment, I noticed that I had received and answered only few emails about grading! “This really works!” I exclaimed in my mind. I took couple of hours to make the remaining two rubrics, but this was time well invested.

Recently, I found out, that the Turnitin assignment has a rubric, too. So, my next step is to test this in another course where I have a bigger essay assignment and where I want to use the plagiarism detection system.

An examble of rubricPicture. An examble of rubric.