The Two Hardest Things About Grading

…that, incidentally, almost never appeared when I was a TA:

1- Papers with unexpected problems, having to do with lacking K-12 skills that I hadn’t planned on confronting and also don’t know how to teach. Trying to figure out how to address these papers is much harder than grading papers written, well or poorly, but at something like the expected skill level. I still get shocked and amazed and do not know how to assess these papers, but they are not as confusing as those in the second category.

2- Exams that are faked. Not plagiarized but faked. Does this paper have actual misconceptions, or non-conceptions? I used to assume that if something looked like a misconception, it was, but often once I talk to the student it turns out they had no actual knowledge or comprehension of the material, but just slung together some words that might ring as the class had.

What shocks me about case #2 is that when I catch it, students are surprised that I have done so. They seem to have long experience getting under radar like that.


2 thoughts on “The Two Hardest Things About Grading

  1. Yes! Number 1 I’m already kind of used to, but number 2 is still shocking to me. It even scares me a bot to get an essay where words that vaguely relate to our topic are strung together with bits of my lectures recorded verbatim. Such essays make an impression of having been written by a mentally unstable person. I’d get scared at first, until I realized this was a form of cheating.

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