I will be teaching a new course with a new grading rubric. All of my students will write a lab report at the end of each 3 hour lab session. Each lab report will have an abstract, introduction, data, results, and conclusion sections. How can I prepare my grading rubric to minimize grading time for all lab reports I will grade at the end of each week?
When I was teaching physics classes in grad, grading got easier after creating a key (or rubric) that was really concrete. By creating a specific set of things to look for, grading took less time and students were happier with their grades. Here is what worked for me.
- Explaining figure etiquette: axis labels, include units, have the data points take the majority of the graph area.
- Communicating the expected details: clarity of answers, showing work, including the data sheet, etc.
- Giving examples of deducting points for poor quality.
I found same-day grading took less time (since the material was fresh in my mind) and created a great deadline for late work. I accepted work for full credit until I grading was finished; afterwards, I awarded late labs 50% (without grading).
The more that grading is turned into a box ticking exercise, the quicker you are going to be able to do the grading. The more easily you can determine if students have ticked a box, the quicker you will be able to grade. In many ways using a box ticking rubric approach may transform the lab reports into an exercise of gaming the rubric instead of learning the concepts and material.
My biggest problem when marking lab reports with a rubric are the good reports that have gone in a different direction. The rubric says they should do bad, but the report seems good. I think by showing the students the rubric you can transform the lab report into a true box ticking exercise. It might be best to even reformat the lab report to not use traditional sections, but only require "short answers" to the key components.
Potentially the introduction could be 6 (12, 24 depending on the level) references and one sentence stating why it is relevant. The results could be the relevant numbers (with units) and any statistical tests. The conclusion could be bullet points. The less the students write, the quicker you will be able to mark the reports.