Do you have a hard time keeping up with your grading? Do you have to cut back on your homework assignments to make grading manageable? Have you ever considered making your students grade their own homework? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, this post is for you! Having students grade their own homework is valuable, saves teachers time, and enhances student learning. I had always hesitated to have my students grade their work, however, when I could not keep up with my grading, I decided to give it a shot. I wish I had considered doing this sooner!
How to let students grade their own work?
Please note that I do not let my students grade all their homework. Personally, I grade every other homework assignment, starting with the first one, so that they get used to my grading style. There is more than one way you can have students grade their work. Some instructors, like Nelta M. Edwards, hand out a key at the beginning of the lesson on the day the homework is due and let the students grade themselves with the key. If a student is absent, they do not get credit.
I go over all the homework problems with my students and then let them assign themselves points depending on what they missed. Then I collect the homework to check on their grading and enter grades. The first time I tried this, I was surprised by how many points my students took off their work. They graded harsher than I would have. Also, they were surprisingly honest about what they did wrong.
Benefits of Having Students Grade their Own Homework
There are several benefits to letting students grade their homework, and the following are my top five:
- Helps student reflection. When I grade my students’ homework, they seem to care more about their grade than what they did wrong. They would not even bother trying to do corrections on their own. However, when I have them grade, they do their corrections as we are going over the homework. This is a valuable learning experience that gives them an opportunity to reflect on their own thinking.
- Offers immediate and relevant feedback. Students value identifying their own mistakes shortly after making them. When students grade their work, they get immediate feedback on what exactly they missed, rather than waiting for the instructor days after their homework was turned in for grading.
- Reduces instructor grading time. Perhaps an important benefit for instructors, having students grade their homework could reduce their own time spent on grading. If you decide to have your students grade every other homework assignment, that is a 50 percent reduction in your grading time. Since most of our precalculus and calculus classes tend to have high enrollments, a 50 percent reduction in your homework grading is a welcome relief.
- Shifts attention away from grades. In addition to the 6 Ways to Upend the Focus on Good Grades, having students grade their homework also refocuses their attention away from grades. Instead, they focus more on why they got the problems wrong, thereby allowing them to take responsibility for their own learning. It also eliminates the need for any grade-related discussions with students as they know exactly how they were graded. According to Edwards, having students grade their own work “alleviates student anxiety and, subsequently, eases student-teacher conflict by demystifying the grading process and making students feel that they have control over their own evaluation.” When my students ask questions while grading, they are usually more concerned about how many points should be taken off for certain kinds of errors.
- Provides students with another learning opportunity. Having students grade their own work can help provide them with another opportunity to learn concepts they might have missed. Sadler and Good looked at the correlation of grades by comparing self- and peer-grading with the test grades that a seventh-grade science teacher assigned to 101 students in four classes. They also measured the impact on learning by analyzing students’ performance on an unannounced second administration of the test a week after self- or peer-grading. They noted that “students who graded their peers’ tests did not gain significantly more than a control group of students who did not correct any papers but simply took the same test again,” however “those students who corrected their own tests improved dramatically.”
Edwards, N. M. (2007). Student Self-Grading in Social Statistics. College Teaching, 55 (2), 72-76.
Sadler & Good (2006). The Impact of Self- and Peer Grading on Student Learning. Educational Assessment, 11(1), 1-31.
Weimer Maryellen (2009). Benefits of a Student Self Grading Model. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/educational-assessment/benefits-of-a-student-self-grading-model/.