This may not come as a major revelation to anyone else, but it did come as a major revelation to me: the reason that I feel like I am drowning in grading is not because I am slow or inefficient or otherwise deficient, but because I have entirely too much grading to do in entirely too short a span of time
. Consider the following observations:
- this semester I have three classes; their enrollments are 24, 22, and 18, for a total number of 64 students. This does not include a number of independent studies, internships which I am supervising, theses which I am advising, etc.
- my university does not permit TAs, so there's no one else to help out with the grading.
- the kind of courses that I traditionally teach do not lend themselves to blue-book, in-class final exams, so all of these courses had final take-home essays or research papers.
- in addition, discussion-intensive classes, which two of my courses this semester were, take considerably more time to grade come the end of the semester, since evaluating a student's performance in class discussion is rather more complicated than simply inserting numbers into a spreadsheet and seeing what pops out. [Not that that kind of end-of-semester grading is particularly easy or self-evident either; my point is only that it takes less time per student than the kind of thing that I am presently wading through.]
- it takes me between half an hour and 45 minutes to wrap up a student's semester, which means grading their final exam/paper and determining their semester grade.
- most of the exams came on on Monday the 20th.
Now, factor in also the leftover semester assignments that consumed my grading time on Monday, and
the fact that on Tuesday morning I had a conversation with my editor (I love saying that -- "my editor" -- after about two years of shopping the book manuscript around to people who didn't get the argument, it's very gratifying to be able to proudly proclaim the book to be "forthcoming" and to have someone whom I can call "my editor"!) about the re-framing of the book that he had discussed with the press' board of directors, and this led to a couple of hours of work revising the second chapter and drawing up a revised table of contents, and that Tuesday afternoon I had a meeting with a student about finishing his thesis, as well as some correspondence and discussions relating to the two (!) conference/workshop thingies that I am involved in planning, and the grading of the finals didn't begin in earnest until Wednesday. Also remember that Christmas is Saturday, which makes Christmas Eve (dinner, preparations for my kids to be delighted on Christmas morning) pretty much a lost cause as far as grading goes.
Yesterday I worked pretty much all day at a steady clip, and got through 18 research papers. That's about nine hours of work, interspersed with a couple of brief "sanity breaks." Today I need to finish the last four papers for that course (about 2 hours; planning to get that done before lunch); then I have to run out to my campus office to correct a shipping error of Santa's (grumble grumble wife's present went to the wrong place grumble), and run a couple of errands on the way; then I'll stay in for a few hours and grade -- and I also have to triage my e-mail, which has gone basically unanswered for three days. So I'll get some grading done this afternoon, but not a lot. Say three hours, or six students from the 21-person class.
This leaves me with fifteen students from that class (say 8 hours), eighteen students from the other class (say 10-12 hours, since that's a more intensive class where I have to evaluate megabytes of simulation chat transcripts and blog entries in addition to final essays), and a few lingering proposals and independent study papers. Make it an even 24 hours from tonight -- but oh yeah, can't really do it on Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, because of Christmas festivities. It's sad when Christmas starts looking like an obstacle
, isn't it?
So I'll have to finish up over the semester break. Oh yeah, and I have to finalize my book ms. by the middle of January, as well as do my part on a co-authored book chapter, revise an article for resubmission, deal with administrative stuff that lingers from a study-abroad program I ran this summer, handle some stuff related to a professional association that I have a leadership position in…
Like I said, I am beginning to realize (slowly, slowly) that the problem may not be my inefficiency, but more my level of overcommitment. Got to take steps to deal with that somehow…when I find the time to think about how to accomplish that…[Posted with ecto]