You need to understand that there can be no foolproof method for evaluating assignments and essays. There are of course some useful guidelines which can help you to make a correct assessment but these will not guarantee perfect results; you should develop a personalized marking system which you find to be best suited for your own use. Before you give an assignment to your students, it is necessary to hand out to them proper instructions to be sure that they know exactly what you expect them to write for that assignment. It is also desirable that you provide them with their assignment topic well in advance so that they can do it well and submit it on time. You could also invite your students to meet you after office hours to hold an informal discussion about the ideas they wish to incorporate in the assignment before they start writing. You could even invite them to review the first draft.
Image: Screenshot of an academic assignment from a paper related to a course at Queensland University, Australia.
Tips to make sure that you mark the assignment properly:
- When you are about to evaluate a student’s assignment, it is necessary to take into account what you expect the assignment to contain and how much importance you plan to attach to the format and the content. Most assignment experts will advise against assessing an assignment by focusing only on the content or the format. This is because many students feel that that can get good marks even when their work is full of technical mistakes. The idea is to make the students realize that their whole work will be graded on how innovative their thoughts are as well as how aptly they have been able to communicate these through their writings.
- It may help you if you follow what is called a marking scheme which is given by instructors. With this tool, you can be confident about being consistent in your evaluations. You can also justify why you have awarded specific grades when questions are raised later.
- It is a good practice to read some papers first in order to get an understanding about how a student writes. You can sort the papers into the “not so good” and “good” categories to make it easier for grading. Many students do need assignment help with their coursework to write the paper meeting all the details mentioned in the marking rubric. When you find that the quality of the papers is not up to the mark, you may consult the instructor to find out if you need to change the expectations. Without marking, you should skim the paper, making them into separate piles according to each letter grade.
- Before you start to mark a paper, it is imperative that you go through the entire paper first to get an overall idea about the writing. On reading it again, you are better equipped to assess it properly and give your comments.
- When you mark the papers in one letter grade, you can decide which paper actually fits in that category by comparing that paper to the others that you may have marked. You can accordingly re-adjust grades when you understand that your first impressions are not as accurate as you had thought they would be. To assign the tentative grades, you can make use of post-it notes.
- When you must provide feedback, you can insert brief comments throughout and give your remarks about the grade you have assigned at the end. It is important to acknowledge the positive features of the writing.
- Instead of re-writing the whole assignment for your student’s benefit, it is necessary to focus on his weaknesses; noting consistent mistakes in his grammar or sentence formations. You should void correcting all the errors that you can find; when you notice that there are too many mistakes, you can advise the students to discuss it with you after class hours.
- At the start, you can read through the assignment quickly to get an idea about the overall focus; however, you must review the structure and coherence aspects, the introductions and the conclusion in details after this. You need to decide what kind of comments to write down for the student’s benefit and not overwhelm him with too many comments. At the same time, without a genuine feedback from you, he cannot understand why he has been awarded a certain grade.
- After making specific and general comments, you should consider how effective the assignment is in terms of the effect it has on the reader and also in comparison with other assignments.
Assessing and assignment is not an easy task and you have to know exactly how to go about the process to ensure that the student in question benefits from your evaluation and comments. The best way to make sure that you can make an unbiased and effective assessment is to allot a specific time for evaluating every assignment and setting a realistic date for returning it. While evaluating, it is important to take occasional breaks to give the mind a rest. You can read the papers in batches, use a marking guide, keep comments brief and observe time limits to finish your task on time.