I have procrastinated to the point that now I must do a marathon grading push so that all of the papers are graded before 9 AM tomorrow.
I have 15 left to go.
If these were regular papers, I'd not be in such a bind. The problem with grading these particular papers is that the assignment is all about revision, and so I have to look at multiple versions of things. The assignments are not terribly long, but they do require attention. This is very good for my students. I believe in the assignment. I just don't believe in grading it :P
So, a question:
How do we insist upon the value of revision without assigning things that teach revision? This is my dream, to come up with the answer to this question.
Some might argue that the way to teach revision is to dole out tough grades - they'll learn from failure. I think that is true for bright students who are also quite motivated. The reality is that not all students are bright and quite motivated. Many will look at tough grades and say, "wow, that professor just doesn't like me," and they'll call it a day. Oh, and skewer one on one's evaluations.
Another example is to add to the above the carrot of allowing students to revise to boost their bad grades. I do that, but the reality is that most students still do not really learn how to revise from that exercise. They learn to address professors' comments, but they do not learn how to approach their own writing with an eye toward revision. They don't learn to think of revision as something that all writing demands, and they don't learn to see revision as something that is ultimately freeing and creative. (I really do believe that about revision, incidentally. I'm not just saying that because I teach writing.)
And so I've come up with this assignment that I hate grading. And I do think that the assignment (to some extent) works. What doesn't work is the fact that I have to look at it. I've toyed with the idea of letting students grade it, but I know that would end in a series of A's that have no meaning. The problem is, I'm beginning to feel (after having given this assignment for four years) that the grades I assign on it ultimately have no meaning. Maybe one can't strong-arm students into seeing the value in revision. Maybe an assignment that puts revision as central is just a waste of my (and their) time.
Ok, back to the grindstone. Or maybe to bed and to wake up early to do them? (We all know what a great idea that would be. Yeah right.)
4 years ago