February 13, 2014

"Why It Makes Sense for Students to Grade One Another’s Papers."

A column by  Barry Peddycord III at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I — a professor — didn't actually read this column. I only read the headline and glanced at the text, and this one sentence that popped out at me:
In its worst incarnation, peer grading can be a scheme for lazy professors to offload on students the boring work of assessment.
But I do read exams, every single exam for 30 years, every single word of every single exam, including all the handwritten words — and a typed exam was rare until a few years ago — many of which I had to stare at for a good long time before they acquired meaning.

Everyone is lazy to a certain extent. Despite laziness, most of us have enough character to do what we perceive as our duty. In fact, what we call laziness is an urge for efficiency, a good counter-force that keeps us from become drudges and drones.

So what I'm saying is: If you talk up peer grading and supply professors with plenty of lofty, unselfish reasons to adopt this policy, the sense of duty will erode, and we will drift toward efficiency (AKA laziness).

ADDED: Unlazily, I created a new tag, handwriting, and added to to many old posts. It's a nice tag, the kind I like, because it pulls miscellaneous things out of the 10-year archive. Including...



And...

36 comments:

SBG said...

I am also a conscientious grader of university papers and exams but think that with high accuracy you can make the A-B-C +/- evaluation by taking core samples. Confession: I no longer read every word.

Bob Boyd said...

So what does that note say?

Ann Althouse said...

"I saw that this is not all there is // Our mothers are the bus drivers. They are the bus. See, they're the vehicle that gets us here. They drop us off and go on their way. They continue on their journey, and the problem is that we keep trying to get back on the bus instead of just letting it go."

betamax3000 said...

With the Two Posted Picture Albums I Clicked Repeatedly on the Left Arrow as Quickly and Evenly-Paced as Possible, Causing an Animation of Color and Stream-of-Consciousness Imagery to Flow. Flowers Blossomed into Different Flowers, Certain Flashes of Image would Jump out (Lincoln, for Exp.) and certain Series of Sequential Shots (Ann at a restaurant) would become Mini-Movies Inside the Flow.

I Will Call This Technique the Althouse Montage Simulator.

David said...

I was typing my law school exams in 1967. It was in my interest, and the interest of my professors. Handwriting was not my thing.

To SGB: The students write every word. You should read them. Or find another line of work.

rhhardin said...

Kroger notebook

Previous shopper

Another shopper abandoned note

Work notebook on a neat day.

betamax3000 said...

As an Amateur Handwriting Analyst I Deduced the Following from the Handwriting Sample:

1. The Author Is Obviously Possessed of Great Education, and Probably Works in a Field Requiring Such Education: I'm Postulating a Lawyer, Perhaps;

2. From the Changing Angles of Script in relation to the Page the Author Finds Intrigue in Spatial Dynamics and Thus Context;

3. The Author Wrote the Sample Blindfolded While on a Plane Experiencing Great Turbulence.

Bob Boyd said...

I clicked your comment and got a malware warning from Google saying page blocked.

Bob Boyd said...

I'm referring to Prof. Althouse's comment, not rhhardin's.

rhhardin said...

I don't get any warning but have adblock installed, so it's probably an ad.

rhhardin said...

Work notebook page goes with this and adjacent series.

Ann Althouse said...

"I clicked your comment and got a malware warning from Google saying page blocked."

Goes to an old post on this blog (a Google blog, by the way). Don't know what to say. Try clicking the "handwriting" tag and scrolling until you find the post with the picture.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yuck. As if college hasn't been ruined enough already.

Curious George said...

"Bob Boyd said...
I clicked your comment and got a malware warning from Google saying page blocked."

+1

betamax3000 said...

As an Amateur Handwriting Analyst I Further Note That the Only Text Not to Be Constrained to the Confines of the Page is "I". This Indicates a Subconscious Need of the Writer to Explore Outside of Perceived Boundaries. Or Start with Bigger Paper.

betamax3000 said...

The Premise of "Amateur Handwriting Analyst": Start with What You Know About the Subject and Work Backwards in Analyzing the Provided Evidence to Make it Fit. Like This Doesn't Happen with Expert Witnesses in Courtrooms All the Time.

I Can Look at a Picture of a Naked Woman and Determine What Kind of Criminal She Might Be, if Only In Her Naughty, Naughty Heart.

Skills.

betamax3000 said...

I see This Leading to "Why It Makes Sense for Commenters to Grade Althouse's Posts." We'' Start with the Grade on Penmanship.


MadisonMan said...

I do let students see other students' writings in my class -- but I am responsible for the grading.

Seeing their peers' work gives them a better view of how they stand in the class. The problem with students grading other students' papers is that, unless they are grading all of them, they get a distorted view of what other people are doing and how well they're doing it.

John Lynch said...

Student grading made me angry when I was in college. I wasn't paying money so that other students, who usually knew less than I did, could grade my work. Why not do it myself? How was I going to improve if the people reading my work didn't understand what was bad about it?

I dropped an English course for this reason. It was a waste of time.

betamax3000 said...

I Give the World a D-Minus.

CStanley said...

My daughter had a math professor who had the students form groups and teach each other the material.

Seriously.

Birches said...

I agree with MadisonMan. I was a TA in my undergraduate years and I had to grade papers (history). I would never want some of those kids grading my papers; they were barely literate. My favorites were the ones who used a thesaurus to try and fool me into thinking they actually knew what they were talking about. They were completely incoherent, but they'd probably give their fellow bloviator and A because they used big words.

William said...

I liked the handwriting sample. In a Stephen King novel, the spouse picks up the notes and idly starts reading them. The spouse puzzles over the deteriorating handwriting. Finally he realizes that the deteriorating handwriting is a sign of the deteriorating mind of the writer. The missive details how he will be gruesomely murdered. He goes to leave the room but finds the door locked. Outside he can hear his wife cackling. "Where's your secret service detail, now big boy, " she laughs as she starts up the chainsaw.

Ann Althouse said...

The handwriting in the photo is notes I took on an episode of "The Sopranos," which I must have been watching in the dark. Or I was writing without looking at the paper.

LTMG said...

The lettering portion of the mechanical drawing class I took as a freshman engineering student has provided lifelong benefit. My script is impossible, and I truly earned a D on two occasions in elementary school for handwriting. I hardly ever use script, preferring to print everything in upper case.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Why do I suspect that "Barry Peddycord III" is, er, a "pen name"?

I have a cat here nicknamed Sir Charles Wigglebutt. That's nearly as plausible a name for a human being.

The Godfather said...

Grading seems to involve measuring performance against a standard, and when the prof. gives the grades the standard is, implicitly, the correct understanding (per the prof.) of the issue. When other students give the grade, even if they are honest, they can only measure the particular performance against their own understanding, which may be wrong.

In 7th grade, a teacher had each of us write a one-page narrative about some event in history, and then had another student grade the paper. Whoever graded my paper gigged me for referring to "the Continent" when I wrote about Henry V sending his army from England to the Continent. The grader said, "Which continent" did I mean. The teacher overruled the student grader and explained why. THAT might be a useful exercise -- in effect each student is being tested twice -- but I don't think that's what's being proposed here.

Anyway, Columbia Law School didn't allow students to grade each others' exams in the 1960's, so I don't think it's a valid approach.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Wow, not very attractive when you were young either, huh?

Bob Ellison said...

That's a cute lady.

rcommal said...

Is there a particular reason why an individual should or ought trust either "a" so-called peer or a so-called peer group? My curious mind wants to know [the info on offer].

rcommal said...

When other students give the grade, even if they are honest, they can only measure the particular performance against their own understanding, which may be wrong.

Wait. Is this true?

rcommal said...

Also, with regard to ...their own understanding.:

Of what, exactly? You put a full-stop after "understanding" as if you think using that word in the way that you did is enough to convey actual and specific meaning.

Peerage, indeed?

rcommal said...

Also, with regard to ...their own understanding.:

Of what, exactly? You put a full-stop after "understanding" as if you think using that word in the way that you did is enough to convey actual and specific meaning.

Peerage, indeed?

Skyler said...

I haven't seen a snorkel jacket since 1977.

kentuckyliz said...

Students can't grade each other's tests and papers any more. It violates FERPA. I shit you not.

jgm said...

Long-dead thread, so guess it's up to me to point out the look of palpable bitchery you have in that pic. Definitely cute, tho.