Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Avoiding the end of the semester chaos

When I compare my end of the semester to that of some of my colleagues, I see a huge divergence in styles.

All that remains for me to do during final exam week is to enter the final exam grade (which are speaking tests that I evaluate as the students are speaking) on my spreadsheet (which has the formulas already set-up), which takes about 5 minutes/class.  Then, I just have to enter the final grade into the computer system, which also takes about 5 minutes/class.  Basically, 10 minutes after each class leaves my office from the test, their final grades are in the computer. 

Some of my colleagues seem to pull all-nighters on the day before grades are due.  It seems stressful and a little bit outrageous to me (and perhaps prone to errors).  Anyway, some tips to reduce grading stress in your life:

1. Keep up with attendance, if you have to enter into a computer system.  I spend about 10 minutes doing it Monday morning before my first class, for the previous week.  Doing a whole semester's worth during final exam week is far too tedious and time-consuming.

2. Use a spreadsheet system to keep track of your grades.  You won't make mistakes in adding and it will save time later.  Just cut and paste the student's names and ID numbers from your computer system into Google Docs or Excel.  And of course, enter grades as you get them.  I generally did it the same day I had a new grade in a class.

3. I like the spreadsheet as well because it gives me a backup.  Some people have all their information on a single piece of paper that they carry around with them from class to class.  This seems risky.  What if they lost it?  I don't think they make copies of it.

4. Don't leave your office until the final grades are in.  For example, if you have 2 Monday classes, don't leave your office that Monday night until the grades are in the computer.  Same with Tuesday, etc.  Procrastination leads to stress!

5. Double-check your grades to avoid mistakes and problems later.  After I've inputted all my grades, I go back and make sure my spreadsheet grades match what I have on paper.  Then, I go into the computer system and double-check that the final grade matches what I have on my spreadsheet.


MsCaroline said...

Don't you use gradebook software? At the US universities where I've taught, we use BlackBoard or Moodle to manage everything from grades to syllabi...or perhaps this is all in Korean?

Jackie Bolen said...

Gradebook software? I haven't really heard of anyone using it here. My uni has an intranet system where I have to enter syllabi, final grades and attendance...so kind of the same I guess. It is all in Korean, so maybe there's more to it that I don't realize. Haha!

MsCaroline said...

There are lots of different software programs, free or to purchase. Lots of K-12 school systems use Gradespeed, which is just for grades, but most US unis use something like BlackBoard or Moodle, which combines communication with grading. I wasn't crazy about the gradebook system that Blackboard had at my last Uni, so I posted syllabi, documents,announcements etc. on Blackboard but always used Engrade for my own records, which is free and online. Advantage is you don't have to set up your own spreadsheet and formulae, and it's pre-programmed to weight categories as % of the grade. You can also give your students their own codes which give them access to their own grades. Not trying to advertise for Engrade, just have used it for years and been very happy. If you're interested in using it for next semester:

Jackie Bolen said...

It looks interesting...I'll try it out one of these semesters! I always seem way too busy at the start of the semester to get new stuff organized :(