Starting to Understand Form Letter Responses

I’m ripping my way through a pile of somewhat-unimportant assignments, and the killer is, I’m not sure which students expect feedback and which don’t… but I am pretty sure that not all of them do, and I’m also pretty sure that some of them very much do want some. However, the feedback and the grading process are not the same thing.

Havng discovered that the wait for a tourist visa to China is no less than 2 days (or, at a cheaper rate, 4 days minimum), I will have a little time next week to add comments to some of the assignments before I mail them out. So right now, I’m just reading and grading, so that I can have the grades ready for the Friday deadline.

And it’s so very tempting to just to do up form letters for each level of grade, with boxes to check for feedback. After all, in general my feedback is reduced to circling errors or awkward sections, and the odd comment, but not real corrections or real feedback. 50 writing students is just too many for me to give feedback on everything, after all. It’s 350 separate pieces of writing, and I just cannot handle all of that. I’m thinking form responses plus notes and markings on a few of the pieces of writing is all that I’m going to be able to offer the majority of them — the time and the strain of giving everyone feedback on everything just doesn’t seem commensurate to the attention and care that most of them actually pay to the feedback that they’ve gotten on previous assignments. (And I’m not sure how useful it all is, in the end, to get this kind of feedback right at the beginning of a two-month-long holiday.)

Perhaps my leveled response forms will also invite students to make appointments early next semester if they wish to get more feedback, or something. I’m going to recognize my limits, though, and not try to push myself beyond what seems reasonable to me right now. I’m reading everything, but correcting every little error is not useful, not my job, and, I think, just too much. I am NOT going to be working on these things until mid-January, I can tell you that.

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