If you can break down what you’re looking for in a good paper into a set of categories and assign a numerical value to each category, then you should definitely consider using Google Forms to help you grade. I just developed a quick and easy way to do this. Here’s what I do.
My students submit their papers electronically, and I download their papers (all at once) into a single folder.
I create a Google form to use as my grading tool. The first question on the form is a text entry for the student’s name. Every question after that is scale question. I set my scale 1-5, and I create a question for each of the main items I’m looking for.
With all of the above complete, I’m ready to start grading. I open the first student paper and resize it so that it takes up three-quarters of the screen. I open up my form in a Firefox window and fill the otherquarter of the screen.
Here’s a screenshot. Click on it to see a large version.
What To Do
- Enter Their Last Name/First Name in the Form on the Right
- Grade the Paper
I read through the paper and type detailed comments in the margins, bold & underline awkward words, phrases etc. As I read, I can grade the student using the form on the right.
- Click Submit
Once you’re done grading the paper and you’ve checked all of your boxes, submit the form.
- Grab Grades from Spreadsheet
Something I didn’t mention about the setup is that you should open the spreadsheet the form dumps data into in another tab. Keep that open throughout the grading process. When you submit a form for a student, click over to the spreadsheet. Grab student’s numerical grade and type it into a comment box at the end of the student’s paper.
(NOTE: The first time you click over, you’ll have to insert a column and program that column to calculate the student’s full grade. I set mine up to the left of the student name column.)
- Rinse and Repeat
Open the next student paper. It should be sized just right. Click back to the tab in Firefox with the form. Refresh to start a new form. You’ll notice that I have a bookmark button for the form in the top left. It makes quick work of opening a new form.
Odds and Ends
Transfering to Gradebook
When you’re finished. You have all of the student paper grades listed alphabetically the way they would appear in your gradebook. Copy the two columns with the student names and grades and paste it into your main grade book. I like to use OpenOffice for my main grade book because I’m more familiar with their functions commands. But since my school doesn’t have a Google Apps contract, this also helps keep me FERPA compliant. It keeps your main official gradebook off of Google’s site. And it gives you more direct control over the information.
The Form is Reusable
Once you’re done grading a set of papers and have copied them over into your main gradebook, delete all of the rows that were submitted by the form. You’re ready to go with the next batch of papers. Once you set this nifty tool up once, you’re done. You can go back to it again and again.
Emailing to Students
Someone once asked me something like “So…do you…like…email each student their paper?” But this person’s tone implied that they thought this was a real pain (and a good reason not to grade papers this way). It’s actually not a pain at all. With a good email client like Thunderbird and an alphabetized email list (which the students can generate for you) – emailing papers back to students is one of the quickest and easiest administrative tasks I deal with in a semester. Just make sure students are required to begin their file name with their last name. If they don’t do this it is a pain. It’s way faster than passing them back in class. If the student saved the paper in the right format, this is a quick and easy affair. I might post how I do this soon.
Why Do This?
This is the quickest and easiest deployment of the grading rubric method I’ve encountered. All of the other methods of grading on a rubric with 10+ categories that I’ve used were either tedious (or left something desirable out of the picture).
More Details On My Paper Assignment
In case you’re interested, here is a brief summary of the sort of papers I have my students write. They are required to present, explain, and evaluate an argument. They must extract an argument from some text and put it in numbered-premise form. The argument must be valid. They must define technical terms. They must discuss initial motivations for each premise. They must have a clear position on soundness. Whether they argue for soundness or unsoundness, they must critically discuss an objection to a premise. And they must consider a counter-response to their reasoning. Notice, all of those things are things that students can objectively fail to do. That’s why I can use this Google Form method, and it keeps me objective. Here’s a list that I give my students that outlines what I’m looking for in one of these short papers. This list corresponds to the categories in my form.