It is end of semester time across the country. For a lucky few professors, finals ended early and tests/papers are already graded. For the rest of us, pain awaits.
At this time of year, there are two types of professors. The first type uses multiple choice questions on tests. The grading process is easy: take a pile of scantron sheets to the data center, leave them, go to coffee shop and read paper, return to data center to pick up summary sheet with each student’s grade. They laugh at the second type of professor (of which I am a charter member).
The other type of professor wouldn’t be caught dead using multiple choice tests, because they believe multiple choice tests actually work against learning. These professors have essay tests, problem tests, projects and term papers. This is where the grading problem starts.
Students are tired by the end of a semester. Occasionally one turns off his/her brain during week six. However, by week 15, the din of flicking switches to the off position has reached a deafening crescendo.
In this blog post, I’m pasting a few cartoons by Jorge Cham, Ph.D. He has been drawing cartoons depicting the grad school experience for nearly two decades. His cartoons are copyrighted, but may be used by bloggers if they provide attribution and a link back to his site. His extensive archive of comics can be found at PhDComics.com.
The first cartoon I’m showing captures one aspect of grading–the assigning of partial credit. The theory goes that surely a student who has sat in class after class has picked up something, so should be due some sort of partial credit for the partial understanding in his/her brain. Right.
I don’t assign negative points, but there are times when I’ve been tempted.
The second cartoon shows the instructor’s frustration after grading many tests, all of which required assignment of partial credit. The joy, the relief, of a good answer truly lifts the soul. Several times I’ve graded my own answer sheet! After a while they all look the same.
The third and final cartoon shows the instructor’s mental pain when depression sets in. You doubt this? Don’t.
Jorge Cham, Ph.D., has a terrific sense of humor. You can sign up for e-mail alerts that arrive every time he draws another cartoon. You can also buy products, such as t-shirts, books and the PhD Movie. http://phdcomics.com
Debit and credit – – David Albrecht