1

I am the course lecturer of a large undergraduate course with about 700 students in the course. One of the challenges of teaching such a large course is grading the assignments and giving students feedback.

Here is some information about the grading process:

  • The students submit their assignments electronically, using a learning management system
  • The graders grade the assignment by filling in a spread

I would like to give the students two types of feedback:

  • Students would receive their scores for each question part, e.g., 1A: 10/10, 1B: 5/5, 1C: 2/5, etc.
  • For each question part where marks were lost, students would receive some comments about why they lost marks, e.g., wrong units in 1B, did not round to an integer in 2A, etc.

Is there an efficient way to give a large class of students such feedback about their assignments?

I considered asking the TA to email each student their score for each question part and the mistakes that they made. However, this seemed to me to be very time consuming and impractical.

Response to questions in comments

Question: How many students does each TA handle? Is the group of a particular TA consistent throughout the course? That is, does the TA handle the same students for the course? Are the "graders" also the TAs?

Answer: We have about 5 PhD students who take the role of graders, i.e., their job is only to do grading. We also have 1 TA who is a recently graduated BSc student, whose job is primarily to do admin work, although she also helps out with a little bit of grading.

Question: What is the learning management system? Do you know all of the available features on this system?

Answer: We are using the Canvas learning management system. It is possible to give comments for each student's assignment; however, to the best of my knowledge, this has to be done one assignment at a time, which means that giving feedback this way would be fairly time-consuming.

  • How many students does each TA handle? Is the group of a particular TA consistent throughout the course? That is, does the TA handle the same students for the course? Are the "graders" also the TAs? – Buffy Dec 28 '18 at 14:06
  • 1
    What is the learning management system? Do you know all of the available features on this system? – Kevin Miller Dec 28 '18 at 19:10
  • With such a large pool of students, why attempt individualized specific feedback? What is the goal you are trying to accomplish? That much data can easily point to specific concepts that are less understood which can lead to augmenting course content. Do you have any current feedback systems? Does this type of feedback exist in your institution from another class and/or department? Are there limits on you making an in-house database? – David S Dec 28 '18 at 23:03
  • 1
    @DavidS You raise a very good point that individualized feedback may not be necessary. Perhaps giving a one-page document explaining some common mistakes is sufficient... – I Like to Code Dec 29 '18 at 16:04
  • 1
    In much smaller classes where I do all the grading, I keep a list of common error notes (one line each) and paste them into the LMS feedback boxes as appropriate. – Daniel R. Collins Dec 29 '18 at 16:23
5

If the class has 700 students there should be a lot of students who are making the same mistakes. Therefore, I do not see much benefit in personalized feedback due to the impracticality of the context.

I would consider it wiser to determine what are the common mistakes that the majority of the students made and provide the same feedback to all students on how to address these common mistakes. This will help the majority of the students without having to commit to the time-intensive effort of personalization.

If there is someone who wants additional explanation they can speak with the TAs.

2

I built a “set” of six spreadsheets (one for each grader) and a master that would take the grades and comments.

Then, using a template in the master, create a “report” for each student - a vba code would then run through producing a report for each student.

Never did tie it to email to make that bit automatic...

1

I'm not familiar with Canvas, but can your graders add markup to documents easily (the electronic equivalent of the old red pen)? If you provide a set of solutions just marking the errors should make it obvious what most of them are, but a one or two word note can be useful, especially in short-form problems or ones with fairly limited and obvious right or wrong answers.

Expansive written comments are more important in long-form written work, since the marking criteria are often a lot fuzzier and it is, IMO, important to be clear about why you think someone has demonstrated only a "good understanding…" instead of a "very good understanding of XYZ" and so on, and because there are often fewer points in the total grade. That takes longer, but those assignments tend to take longer to mark anyway, so the burden isn't too large.

If the errors are mostly "stupid" errors like the ones you described, which don't show any real conceptual problems, just reminding the class in a lecture can be enough feedback.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.