A strategy to combat common writing errors ("gateway criteria")

If your students’ papers are filled with spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, and you don’t wish to spend all of your marking time correcting these basic problems (particularly if you are not teaching English, and you have other content you wish to emphasize in your marking), here’s a strategy from Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Anderson’s Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. They suggest setting “gateway criteria” for your class, clearly laid out standards that students must meet on each assignment before the paper is even graded. If they are not met, the student is given an F, and asked to revise and resubmit to be graded.

These criteria should be adjusted to the level of the students and made absolutely clear to them beforehand. Walvoord suggests that students can submit drafts a day or more before papers are due, to see if they meet the gateway criteria.  -DG


Source: Weimer, Maryellen, “A Strategy for Grading Student Writing Assignments.” Faculty Focus. Magna. 31 January 2012. Web. 24 July 2013. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/a-strategy-for-grading-student-writing-assignments/. Bas ed on research by Walvoord, B.E. and Anderson, V.J. Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.


Collect essay drafts without doubling your marking

Many teachers teach the revision process by having their students turn in each paper twice: first a draft, which is marked up and handed back, and then a revised version. John Sturtridge suggests a strategy that encourages students to take their first drafts seriously while potentially reducing the workload for the teacher. Require students to turn in rough drafts, but offer any student who receives an A grade on the first draft the option of taking that grade without having to revise and resubmit. Sturtridge reports that his students put more of an effort into their drafts, and he does not need to grade two papers for every student.  -DG


Source: Sturtridge, John. “Too Many Papers to Grade? Two Solutions.” Faculty Focus. Magna. 12 July 2013. Web. 21 July 2013. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/too-many-papers-to-grade-two-solutions


Have students respond to marked papers

When you return papers to students, have them 1) correct any grammatical or syntactical problems you have pointed out, either on the paper itself, or on a separate sheet, and 2) respond to any marginal comments you’ve made. Perhaps offer bonus points for thorough responses. This ensures that students actually read your comments, and that they might actually learn from them. -DG

Source: Tollefson, Stephen K. Encouraging Student Writing: A Guide for Instructors. Berkeley: Office of Educational Development, University of California, Berkley, 2002. 9. http://teaching.berkeley.edu/sites/teaching.berkeley.edu/files/encouraging_0.pdf