Wanted: Grading Analytics (about me)

I don’t like grading. And when I have a large enrollment course, the tedium of it can drive me round the bend. To get through the task with my sanity intact I break it into batches, take breaks, etc.

When the task is complete, I have a new perspective on the course I just taught and the students who took the course. I’m a different person for the experience.

It is likely that this transformation is not a sudden one that occurs when I finally put my green pencil back in its holster. I’m pretty sure I evolve over the course of several days of marking. And, too, I’m pretty sure there are other temporal effects too: I get tired, exasperated, bored, delighted, and even angry over the course of the work. I bet that has an effect on the grades I confer, no matter how careful I might be.

To investigate this I click on the “analytics” button on my LMS’s interface. But what to my astonished eyes should appear but a zillion ways to slice and dice data about students and not a one to measure me.

So why isn’t there a function that would tell me if there is a bias that creeps into my grading over the course of a session or over the course of several days of end of semester grading? The system lets me grade anonymously, of course, but personal bias is not what I am looking for here. I want to extract some meaning out of data that’s already there: is there an advantage to being in the group I mark the first day? Last day? Are you better off getting marked at the beginning of a work session or the end? Simple stuff, really, but stuff that would contribute to reflective practice. I’m not imagining an algorithm that will compensate for my human foibles, but one that will keep me inclined to the same sort of continuous evaluation and performance improvement that we deploy with our students. And maybe some practical wisdom will emerge: “don’t grade for more than two hours at a time, Dan” or “don’t stretch it out for more than two days, Dan.” Those would be useful too.

Canvas folks in the back room? Are you listening? This would be dead easy – the data is already there. A lot of it. Give me more tools for self-monitoring rather than more tools for surveillance of my students.

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at MinervaProject.com. I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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