Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Managing the Paper Load


Many faculty resist adding writing assignments to courses because they fear the extra burden of grading papers. That’s a well-grounded fear. There is no way around some extra work. There is no machine that responds to student writing as you do in the context of your instruction. That said, several practices ensure that you won’t bury yourself in paper grading.

Many instructors spend their time responding to writing after the student is finished. However, we know that students write best when they submit drafts to peers or to their professor that they can revise after receiving feedback. So, if your students write formal papers, you owe it to them to give them feedback on their work (preferably in a draft) and a chance to revise by putting your comments into practice. Drafts are the place to encourage students to dig deeper, to be more analytical, to augment their source material, to consider different organizational patterns— in other words, to make major improvements.

If you are working harder than your students, then something is wrong. Here are some tips for avoiding the paper trap.

University of Delaware Writing Center. (2006). Faculty Resources. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2009, from University of Delaware website: http://www.english.udel.edu/wc/faculty/resources.html

Tip References

Bean, J.C. (2001). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active
Learning in the Classroom.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kennedy, M.L. (2002). The Online Manual for Writing Across the Curriculum. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2009, from SUNY Cortland website: http://www.cortland.edu/english/wac/index.html

Other useful web sites with excellent coverage of these topics:

Calibrated Peer Review (NSF) (n.d.) Web-based writing and peer review. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2009, from CPR website: http://cpr.molsci.ucla.edu/

Colorado School of Mines Campus Writing Program. (n.d.) How to Reduce Grading Time and Stress. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2009, from CWP website: http://writing.mines.edu/reducestress.htm

Manoa Writing Program. (2009). Handling the Paper Load. Retrieved Sept. 10, 2009, from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa website: http://www.mwp.hawaii.edu/resources/qt-paperload.htm