The Five Stages of Grading (via Not that Kind of Doctor)

I’m reproducing this brilliant post from “Not that Kind of Doctor” As I hit the end of quarter wall, I feel this… deeply.

In coping with grading, it’s important for graduate students and young professors to know that they are not alone and that this process takes time.  Not everyone goes through every stage or processes the reality of grading in this order, but everyone experiences some version of at least two of these steps.

Denial.  At this stage, the instructor is unwilling to acknowledge the size of the task ahead of him or her. An instructor in denial may be heard to say things like, “It’s not really that many essays, when you think about it.”…

To read more, go to the original post at “Not that Kind of Doctor.”

3 thoughts on “The Five Stages of Grading (via Not that Kind of Doctor)

  1. Jim Wheeler

    Your lament, Jennifer, reminds me of an unusual college, one that differs from almost all others in their approach to learning and grades. I know of it only because it was in the same town as was the college I went to, and it could not be more different.

    St. John’s College has a campus in Santa Fe, but I only knew about the one in Annapolis. I don’t think I ever saw one of their students, though. Consider this from their Wiki page:

    Unlike mainstream U.S. colleges, St. John’s avoids modern textbooks, lectures, and examinations. Instead of textbooks, in addition to primary materials, the College relies on a series of manuals. While traditional (A through F) grades are given, the culture of the school de-emphasizes their importance and grades are released only at the request of the student. Grading is based largely on class participation and papers. Tutors, as faculty members are called at the College, play a non-directive role in the classroom, compared to mainstream colleges. However, at St. John’s this does vary somewhat by course and instructor.

    Class size is small on both campuses, with a student to tutor ratio of 8:1. Seminar is the largest class, with around 20 students, but led by two tutors. Daytime tutorials are smaller, typically ranging between 12 to 16 students and are led by one tutor. Preceptorials are the smallest class size, ranging between 3 and 9 students.

    They appear to be very successful with their approach and I think it might be worth emulating, at least in a private-school setting. I have always thought that grades detracted from learning and now with grade creep and NCLB in our experience, I think so even more.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      I also am not a big fan of grades – I believe that they detract from the true goal of education: learning. There are some private schools that have completely done away with grades (montessori are the big ones). Those that do tend to supplement them with lengthy written evalutions that meaningful discuss the students’ strengths and weaknesses. The number of times I have had discussions with students and/or parents about the minuteae of a grading detail rather than the details of meaningful learning…
      I have seen some small colleges do this (hadn’t heard of St. John’s before, but thanks). Most of them are very small, and non-traditional. Glad to see that some universities are on the roll to do so. Colleges are, generally, more prepared than High Schools to do this as college grades are largely ‘meaningless’ (beyond passing). High Schools with a college focus are largely dependent on grading to ensure students can successfully continue the college tract. Yes, there are exceptions – but it’s challenging.


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