Grading and Submitting Documents

I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the large majority of the grading work I need to do. I have some calculating of numbers, and so on, but I really only have two classes left to enter the data for — unfortunately, my largest class is one of them. I hope to finish that tonight, leaving me all of Saturday to do the calculations. But I will need to collate a bunch of grades that students assigned to one another during the peer evaluation segment of the “discussion leadership” section of my conversation class.

Which is very important and useful, but it’s really a pain to collect the grades that each leader assigned to each group, collate them, and calculate an average out of them. 33 students have assigned grades to at least 20 of their peers. I’m thinking I should do this on paper first, as it will probably save me time.

I think what I need is an intelligently designed program that allows students to input peer evaluations for their classmates, such that it will appear anonymous to everyone except me, as well as self-evaluations that will not be available to anyone except myself.

If that happens, then peer evaluations will be usable not just for the “discussion leadership” segment of the class, but for everything. I can get a better idea of how students are participating and performing in class when I am not standing beside them, because my presence makes some slackers suddenly pretend to be working hard, and meanwhile sometimes makes the more shy and timid of students stop talking out of embarrassment or nervousness about mistakes they might make and I might hear.

Not that I let peer evaluation take the place of my own evaluation — I am careful to look at what people assign themselves and others — but it does help streamline the process. It’s also great because it helps me take effort into account, while giving students an honest opportunity to tell me how much effort they feel they really made. They’re surprisingly honest. Also, and this is interesting, they’re even more honest when the self-evaluation is composed of two parts: one where they evaluate specific skills and behaviours in a non-numerical way, on a scale from “poor” to “amazing” or “outstanding.” When theyself-evaluate that way, they’re quite honest. Then you ask them to assign a grade, and you get something that doesn’t line up with their more modular self-evaluation — sometimes they’re too tough on themselves, but often, they over-reward themselves.

Peer evaluation is one antidote to this, because classmates aren’t all that inclined to go easy on peers when they’re asked to be honest and are given anonymity. They tend not to be too tough, but they’re not generous like they would be if they weren’t anonymous. There are a few exceptions — people who are too tough, or punish classmates for leading discussions on topics of which they disapprove. Or, on the other hand, those who reward peers for silly things like handing out candies during a rather mediocre presentation or for having nice legs.

(I suspect that an analysis of the way students, especially female students, choose to dress on presentation days, and during exams, would yield very interesting results. Aside from WAY more shirts with English on them, you also see a higher occurrence of miniskirts and other showy clothing during exams and on presentation days.)

Anyway, self-evaluation and peer-evaluation are working very well for me, right now, but I really need to find a way to automate the process, some system wherein I can have students self-evaluate weekly, and where I can customize peer-evaluation criteria for different assignments, and queue them up for all pertinent students.

If anyone knows of a piece of software that can handle that, I’d be mightily grateful. What I do NOT want to do is try to learn some language and code it for myself. (Because I simply don’t have the time to have students submit weekly self-evaluations, to process and enter them into my gradesheets. That would take several more hours per week from my schedule, and I’m already stretched as it is.)

Anyway, I’m glad that I should have some time on Sunday, because I’ve been asked to submit a dossier of all my work done at the University, to support my renewal next year. I didn’t know that this would be requested, and I’m not sure what would have been done if, as I’d planned, I had flown out of country last Saturday. I guess it’s a lucky thing that I canceled my trip. But it’s very short notice, and I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to find and arrange all of my handouts and so on in time.  A little more notice would have been good, but my readers must have some idea by now about how everything seems to be last-minute in Korea.

In any case, having a teaching dossier will be a useful thing for later on. I think once I have done one up, I’ll keep it on file for when I’m applying for other jobs later on. I just wish I knew I’d have to have one for the end of the month before this morning.

9 thoughts on “Grading and Submitting Documents

  1. First off I just glossed this post so if i say anthing that you covered, my apologies.

    When I do peer evaluation I get everything in and then enter the data into excel (I’m sure there’s something in OO that does the equivalent) and have excel calculate the averages for me. it’s boring data entry, but it’s worth it in the end. I also make my evaluation of the work worth 70% and peer evaluation 30% so that it doesn’t turn into a popularity contest.

    One thing that I have found is that some students tend to give everyone the same score. To combat this I also require students to give a one sentence explanation justifying the grade they assigned. Additionally if everyone gets the same grade the grader will be penalized for not carefully assessing the groups. This is especially important when one group/student blows their assignment relying on good will of their classmates.

    If you do find some sort of web software that could automatize this, please share. However I wouldn’t exactly trust it due to their being some time and distance between what is being evaluated and the peer grading being input.

  2. EFL Geek,

    Installing it looks like a pain, and it’s probably got a learning curve on it to put to shame even [supply favorite curvy actress here] but UBC’s ipeer looks like it could do the job. However, if you’re still using moodle, there’s been some work on intergrating peer review in different ways. If you google moodle peer review (no quotes) you may find something useful.

  3. By the way, EFL Geek,

    I had my hosting service guys install iPeer and it’s looking like it will be completely usable for both self-evaluations and peer evaluations. The setup is going to be a big job at the beginning of semester, but after that, I think it should run fine. (Though setting up self-evaluation looks a little tricky — I’ll be specially number-tagging each set of groups I create in each class, with the 900s being the range where I set up self-evaluations.

    All I need to design is a workable way of tracking student groups. I think I’ll get group tracking sheets set up. (Less paper, as I can trash them as soon as I’ve set up the evaluation groups online.)

    It’s looking good. If you set it up and have any questions, let me know, I’ll share whatever solution I may have hacked together.

  4. Gord,
    yeah, moodle has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you can’t live without it. Installing is drop dead easy – the docs are just scary. It’s even easier if you have shell access.

  5. Well, I think I’m going to try it out this holiday and then see what I think. I’ll be using either Moodle or iPeer this fall and I’ll be having students do intensive self-evaluation, at least in my Conversation class. I also imagine I’ll be running general evaluations of all presentations in all classes, as well — might as well force students to evaluate and give comments… and also, of course, self-evaluation.

    As for the essay writing course, maybe not so much. Perhaps graded feedback will be collected, but I don’t think I’ll use it very much for evaluation in writing courses, since evaluation is so much easier in writing (for me).

    I think the other thing I’ll be doing is creating spreadsheets with grading info for each course when the semester begins. I bet Moodle would let me customize evaluations and store all my records, password-locked, on my site, and so on. Right?

    I figure, automation can help make the least useful and least interesting part of teaching — the grading — easier, so why not take advantage of it? Anyway, we’ll see how far I get with it.

  6. Actually, do you have a site running that I could look at, EFL teacher? If you do, please email me a link. I’d like to see what Moodle spits out for students or teachers to see, and the demo isn’t particularly helpful for me.

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