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How to save time and improve your teaching - 3

Last updated on 21 February 2024
If assignments count towards the final grade, it encourages students to take them seriously. However, grading can take up a lot of time, perhaps too much. But do you really need to assess all the assignments? In this tip you will discover an approach that doesn’t require this.

In a previous didactic tip, we discussed that you don't have to grade all submitted assignments on a 10-point scale. The tip below takes that approach a step further. 

Tip: only grade a random selection of submitted assignments
Imagine that you do not grade all the assignments submitted by students, but only some of them. You only announce which assignments this will be after your students have already submitted all their assignments. This way students do their best for all assignments, but you only have to grade a selection. This leaves you time to give feedback.

Is this fair?
This tip may cause some concern because students will find this approach unusual and maybe unpleasant. And as a teacher you may think that your students are being assessed unfairly. These five steps will help you avoid that problem: 

  1. Have students give peer feedback on all submitted assignments. Students learn a lot from this and their efforts are always rewarded because someone will read the assignment thoroughly. The idea that someone will see it increases motivation.
  2. Discuss a few best practices or typical problem cases during the lecture or work group. This allows students to compare their work. Want to know more? Check out tip 9, about showing high quality examples.
  3. Ask students to give themselves a grade based on peer feedback. If you let students give their feedback using a rubric, they are very capable of doing so as a form of self-assessment.
  4. Apply this method, for example, in combination with an oral or written examination. Ask the students to bring their completed assignments for the exam and then ask questions about two or three of their finished assignments.
  5. If necessary, grade an extra assignment. If students feel their final assessment is unfair, for example if they only just scored a failing grade for the course as a whole. Select another random assignment for this. Ask the student to do a self-assessment and check it afterwards. Based on this, you can determine whether this student has performed well enough after all. If disagreement persists, repeat the process.