Nov 30
Working Smarter, Not Harder

Light at end of tunnel.jpgLast week a colleague told me there are three constants for an Instructor: death, taxes… and marking.

We can't help with the first two, but today we'd like to gather some end of term survival strategies for that mound of marking.  

From Janine

Here's an innovation that my colleagues and I developed:

We teach Marketing Research where students learn the entire marketing research process including data analysis using industry-grade software.

Three years ago, the final assignment on data analysis was done in a group. It was also an assignment that they had to physically hand in. The students would run various analyses and then write up their interpretation. That didn't feel quite right – it only proved that one student in the group knew how to use the software.

The next year, our teaching team agreed to make the assignment individual. However, that one assignment alone took me 12 hours to mark for two sections of students.

We needed another option.

Last year, we tried something new. We utilized LEARN to recreate the assignment as a quiz and called it a Skill Check. During an already scheduled lab, students individually complete the Skill Check. We ask them to complete various analyses in the software and then copy and paste their output into an open ended question format. Then we ask a follow up question to ensure they can correctly interpret the output. About half of it is autograded. The other half I can mark within an hour for all students.

For Instructors, this innovation saves time and allows us to assess each students' competency with the software. Students like the focus on proficiency versus all the details that come with submitting a written assignment and they get feedback much faster.

From Amanda

My love of reflective writing assignments is very apparent in my mound of end-of-term marking! But I've become smarter over the years by providing students with a detailed rubric. For example, rather than asking simply for a reflection on their learning about X concepts over the term, I now ask them something like this:

  • List three concepts (3 x 1 mark) related to the practice of supervisory management that you found interesting
  • Show your understanding of these concepts by explaining why each one is interesting to you (3 x 5 marks)
  • Provide an example for each (3 x 5 marks) of how you could apply this understanding to your role as a supervisor in the Class Company we created
  • Note: Marks will be deducted for language errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation) and poor formatting of your document.

This approach doesn't reduce the mound of marking, but it does help systematize my evaluation of the students' work. And I count that as a win at this time of the term!


How do you survive the busyness of the end of term? Do you have any encouragement? Any tips to work smarter, not harder?


There is nothing like that ...

There is nothing like that rush you get when you read a well crafted, insightful, and unique answer to an analytical question.....amarite??!  (apologies if the slang and sentence structure undermines the credibility of this post)

Two strategies that have worked for me:

1. Stating in the evaluation instructions to use "detailed point form".  I explain in class that detailed point form means full sentences, with clear explanations and examples, and logical sequencing of points.  This helps students organize answers so I do not have to search through paragraphs, or pages of writing, for key points.

2. This links with my first point, I instruct students to underline key points in the answer. 

These strategies provide quick anchor points, and help me focus when I am on exam #65 and the world is blurry.
Picture Placeholder: Lindsay Mulholland
  • Lindsay Mulholland
 on 11/30/2018 9:50 AM

I like that approach, Linds...

I like that approach, Lindsay. Good tips. Thanks!
Picture Placeholder: Amanda  Le Rougetel
  • Amanda Le Rougetel
 on 11/30/2018 1:19 PM