30 papers left


in Daily updates, Teaching

If the plan to finish the PhD by the end of August holds — along with the pattern of never getting a summer TA position — this batch of second year political science papers will be the last undergraduate essay grading I ever do.

That would be most welcome. While there is a nurturing sort of grader who focuses on finding something to approve of in each submission, my approach is to hold firm sets of criteria in mind for each range of grades and then work to fairly assign each paper to the right one based on the ways in which it is insufficient according to the criteria for a higher one.

Actually teaching people how to improve their writing would require a lot more one-on-one interaction than U of T provides. When students want to meet about their papers I set aside an hour for each one, which rapidly becomes unpaid since I am not assigned anywhere near that many hours for student contact. Still, it is worthwhile because it shows how students at every level of skill can benefit from detailed engagement with exactly what is expected in a university paper: whether that is finding a few scattered pieces of an argument that could have been presented in a convincing and well-supported way, or adding more nuance and consideration of counterarguments to a paper than is already very strong.

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R.K. March 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Keep on pushing!

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