If you ever ask a teacher what they dislike the most about their job, it is likely that they will say grading. It never seems to end and when I taught in the public school, I could easily spend 10 hours a week or more grading tests, quizzes and problem solving tasks. One of the purposes of grading should be to provide students with feedback. I am not just talking about a percentage or number correct. I am talking about enough feedback that the student can understand where he or she fell short and how to improve.
Feedback on assessments is usually quick, things like "be careful of your signs" or "don't forget the Such-and-Such property". In my mind the feedback is clear. But perhaps it isn't as clear as I think. Today a student came back and asked me about the following feedback I gave on his Calculus quiz.
He was wondering what my feedback was showing. What did he do wrong? Had he not asked me about it, my feedback to him would have been meaningless. Would writing sentences like these have helped? "If you don't have the parentheses, only the 4 is multiplied by 10ex. You need the parentheses, because we want the entire denominator to be multiplied by the derivative of the numerator." Maybe it would have been helpful. Or maybe not. It would certainly take me about 10 times longer to write that than what I wrote.
So, what is the answer to providing more specific student feedback AND not drowning in red ink? I am hoping to find the answer to this in the new book I starting to read "Grading Smarter, Not Harder" by Myron Dueck. Any ideas I try, I'll be sure to share them in my blog.