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Articles on Grading and Marking

Listed below are articles on this topic from the Campus Writing Program library. Short summaries and citations are provided when available.


Greenberg, Karen L. "Assessing Writing: Theory and Practice." McMillan, J.H., ed., Assessing Students' Learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 34. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1988. 47-59.

Describes methods for assessing writing in any discipline: holistic scoring, evaluative grid, portfolios, peer review and self evaluation. Includes examples of all methods except portfolio evaluation.

Haswell, Richard H. "Minimal Marking." College English 45.6 (Oct. 1983): 600-604.

Argues for a "minimal marking" approach to grammatical/mechanical mistakes in student writing: simply indicate, using a check in the margin of the paper, where such mistakes are, and force the student to pinpoint and correct them. Presents data indicating that students can and do correct mistakes marked in this way, most of the time. The technique also reduces the number of errors that appear in first drafts.

Holt, Dennis. "Holistic Scoring in Many Disciplines." College Teaching 41.2 (1993): 71-74.

Outlines methods used in holistic scoring: determining general standards for an assignment, making comparative judgements about quality. Explains adaptations for assessing writing in particular circumstances and across disciplines.

Lees, Elaine O. "Evaluating Student Writing." College Composition and Communication 30.4 (Dec. 1979): 370-374.

Discusses how to comment profitably to student writing. Divides marginal commentary into correcting (overemphasizes errors), emoting (elicits So What?), describing (doesn't help student revise), suggesting (might help this paper, but not others), questioning (might get student to rethink), reminding (could connect lecture to paper), and assigning (can actually get student to re-see the issue).

McDonald, W.U., Jr. "The Revising Process and the Marking of Student Papers." College Composition and Communication 29.2 (May 1978): 167 170.

Discusses how to respond appropriately to preliminary drafts of student papers. Among first things to look for: a focus or thesis (which may be at the end rather than the beginning of the paper). Also of first importance: content, coherence, and clarity. In later drafts can concentrate more on grammar/mechanics.

Robertson, Michael. "Writing and Responding." Schwartz, Mimi, ed., Writer's Craft, Teacher's Art: Teaching What We Know. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1991. 115-124.

Describes the author's approach to commenting on or responding to student writing, which is based on his experiences with an editor at a NYC magazine and is based on a medical/diagnosis analogy. Gives 4 principles to use in responding: most comments should be aimed at revision; respond to content; establish a dialogue; and point out general principles of good writing.

Slattery, Patrick. "Encouraging Critical Thinking: A Strategy of Commenting on College Papers." College Composition and Communication 41 (October 1990): 332-335.

Suggests types of comments that can be made on student papers to encourage critical thinking: a support response and a challenge response.

Smith, Summer. "The Genre of the End Comment: Conventions in Teacher Responses to Student Writing." College Composition and Communication 48.2 (1997): 249-268.

Catagorizes sixteen primary genres of end comments from a representative sample of papers. End comments may combine genres, but the form itself is stable. Smith contends that the stability of the form makes the end comment easy to generate, but also may make the comment pedagogically ineffective. Students may recognize the formulaic approach, and thus dismiss the comment without reading it, while instructors may find that writing according to convention restricts their choices.

Sommers, Nancy. "Responding to Student Writing." College Composition and Communication 33.2 (May 1982): 148-156.

Study of comments by professors on student papers. Findings: Profs' comments have effect of appropriating text from students to profs. Profs' comments are not text-specific and, in fact, could be put anywhere on any paper. Suggestions: don't comment on mechanical errors on first draft; provide comments that force students to rethink or clarify their position on an issue.

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