Easing the Paperwork Load SUMMARY

In traditional classrooms, many instructors work hard making corrections to student work that is incomplete or incorrect.

As a result, some students submit incomplete or incorrect work, confident the instructor will find and fix the problems. 

The result?

 Instructors who experience:

•Overwork

•Exhaustion

•Frustration

•Victimization

•Burnout

Students who experience:

•Passivity

•Helplessness

•Dependence

•Minimal effort

•Low motivation

How do we return responsibility to students?

1. Provide structure and put standards into writing.

•Describe in writing what you look for in assignments and class activities

•Structure assignments clearly

•Break complex tasks into small, checkable steps

2. Have students practice and master skills before tackling an assignment.

•During class, students practice the steps in a complex task

•After students have mastered a skill, they teach it to others

•Groups provide help and feedback

3. Have students check and certify completed assignments.

•Hand out a detailed checklist for students to submit with each assignment

•Have students highlight important components (such as the thesis and topic sentences in an essay) before submitting work

•Set specific guidelines for group editing and revising

4.  Accept work only when it represents students’ best efforts.

•Spot-check work as soon as it is submitted

•Scan students’ completed checklists to determine which work you will accept for grading

•Immediately hand back work that doesn’t meet requirements

•Announce that work you’ve handed back will receive an automatic grade deduction 

The result? Students who

•Work cooperatively with the instructor and one another

•Tackle problems proactively

•Hold themselves accountable for their success

•Keep track of assignments and requirements

•Check work carefully before submitting it

•Produce quality work

And instructors who:

•Accept only high-quality work

•Can’t be manipulated into doing students’ work for them

•Experience higher levels of energy and enthusiasm

•Have fewer error-ridden papers to process

© Jean Reynolds 2012

 

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