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Grading papers can take hours of your time. It's frustrating to read page after page of essays only to realize that you've scored some students' work differently than others. When this happens, you have to go back through each paper from the beginning, making sure the grades are uniform. It stinks. Luckily, there's an easier way to keep track of student performances. All you have to do is use a standardized grading tool--the rubric.
Rubrics make grading papers fast and easy. With a rubric, you know exactly what to look for in your students' projects, so there's no need to spend valuable time trying to make sense of pages of essay work. If you can't find what the rubric lists, then the student doesn't get those points. It's that simple.
Sometimes, students complain that their papers are graded unfairly. They don't understand why they receive the grades they do. A rubric takes away most problems like these. With a rubric, students have a clear list of where they lost points on a project, so they don't have to wonder how they got the grade they did.
To reap the rewards of rubrics, first you have to make one. It takes time to make a rubric targeted for your specific class project, but the time spent is worth the hassle you'll save when grading projects later on. There are many different kinds of rubrics available, but all start with recognizing your goals for a project. First, list everything you expect out of a project. A good method for doing this is to describe what would be your ideal finished product. Write one to two paragraphs addressing every part of this ideal; what makes it great? Then, translate your paragraphs into list form, organizing your list into three or four sections. You may want to organize your rubric around the structure of the project--introduction, body, conclusion for essay projects. Alternatively, you could organize your rubric around elements of style--grammar, syntax, creativity and structure.
Once you've laid down everything you want to consider in your rubric, devise a point system. Decide how many points are possible for each element in your list, keeping in mind it's easiest to grade out of 100 points. Then, you're ready to start grading! Read through each student essay looking for only what you've listed on the rubric. Don't waste time addressing issues that aren't part of the rubric unless they are severe problems with the project that you did not foresee in your grade breakdown. If you have targeted points to look for in each project you read through, grading these assignments should take a lot less time.
A rubric will save you time and it will make it easier to determine final grades. After you've read projects and looked for the components listed on a rubric, you can go element by element and determine how many points the student should receive out of the total available for each component. For example, if an essay has only a few grammatical mistakes, you might choose to assign that student four out of five possible points for grammar. Once you've given points for each element, all you have to do is add the total points and you've got the final grade!
If you've never used a rubric, think about trying one for your next project. You'll learn that grading doesn't have to be such a chore.