A recent report found that teachers spend about 5 hours each week grading assignments. And that’s time outside of regular school hours. Add in all of the other things teachers have to do outside of school hours, like lesson planning, meetings, and extra-curricular activities, and it can become overwhelming.
As a teacher, you’re already overworked (and likely underpaid) as it is. So, finding ways to save time grading can help you regain some of your valuable time so you can enjoy a life outside of school. The good news is, there are ways you can grade assignments more efficiently without sacrificing quality.
As someone who’s worked in eLearning for nearly 20 years and has numerous teachers in my network, I’ve put together a collection of highly effective tips for saving time on grading.
How to Save Time When Grading Student Work
Now that we’ve talked about why grades are important, let’s discuss some ways you can save time when grading student work.
1. Use technology to your advantage
Taking your classroom digital can help you significantly slash your grading time. In my opinion, it’s the single best way teachers can cut their grading time down significantly.
There are a number of digital resources available that can help you grade assignments more quickly and efficiently.
For example, online quiz makers and assessment tools can be a super easy and efficient way to administer tests as these tools grade tests and quizzes automatically. This frees up your time so you can focus on other tasks, like writing personalized feedback for students.
Another time-saving tech tool is a digital portfolio platform. These platforms allow students to submit their work electronically, which cuts down on paper waste and makes it easy for you to keep track of all assignments in one place. And, many of these platforms include features that make it easy to provide feedback directly on student work.
You can even use online gradebooks to keep track of student grades and provide feedback rather than doing it all by hand. These gradebooks often include features that automate the grading process, such as weighting assignments and calculating grades automatically.
The result is less work for you and better feedback for your students.
2. Get students involved in the grading process
Another great way to save time when grading is to get students involved in the process.
You can do this by teaching them how to grade their own or each other’s work. This can be especially helpful for assignments that are mostly objective, such as multiple-choice quizzes.
Of course, you’ll still need to check their work and ensure they’re being honest, but this can help cut down on your grading time.
Involving students actively in the grading process can also benefit them academically. They can learn how to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to give and receive instant feedback that’s constructive and insightful.
3. Don’t grade everything
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen new teachers in particular make is thinking that they have to grade every single piece of work their students do.
This simply isn’t true.
In fact, grading every assignment can actually do more harm than good as it takes up a lot of time and can overwhelm students (and you!).
Instead of grading everything, focus on assessing the assignments that are most important. For example, you obviously want to grade major tests but not maybe every single homework item.
If an assignment doesn’t need to be graded in order to provide feedback, then don’t grade it.
For example, if you’re having students do a quick in-class writing exercise, there’s no need to grade every single one. You can simply read through them quickly and provide general feedback on what they did well and what needs improvement.
The key is to focus on the assignments that will give you the most information about student understanding and progress.
4. Create assignments that combine multiple subjects
Another way to save time when grading is to group subjects together into a single assignment for multiple grading opportunities.
For example, you could combine reading and writing skills with social sciences assignments. An essay on a social sciences topic could then be graded both as a writing assignment and as a social sciences assignment.
This can be an efficient way to grade as you’re able to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
Just be sure that the entire assignment is actually assessing what you want it to. You don’t want to overburden students or create an assignment that’s too difficult to complete.
5. Use rubrics
Rubrics are a grading tool that can be used for any type of assignment.
They break down an entire assignment into its various parts and detail the criteria for each part. This makes it easy to assess student work and provide feedback.
Rubrics can also be helpful for students as they can see exactly what is expected of them and what they need to do to earn a good grade.
When using rubrics, you can either create your own or find ones that have already been created. There are rubrics available for almost any type of assignment you can think of.
6. Focus on quality of assignments, not quantity
Does a math assignment really need to have 40 repetitive questions covering the same concept over and over in order to be effective?
Sure, repetition can be helpful for some things, but it’s not always necessary. In fact, it can often be counterproductive as it can lead to students getting bored and feeling like they’re just going through the motions.
It’s important to focus on quality over quantity when creating assignments.
A shorter assignment with 10-15 questions can be plenty if it’s well-designed and covers the material in an effective way.
The key is to focus on creating assignments that are engaging and cover the material in a way that’s most likely to lead to students understanding it.
7. Do spot checks in real-time with in-class work
One easy way to cut down on time spent grading is to spot check your students’ work during class as you go through your lessons.
For example, if you’re working through some math problems, you can have students solve them on their own and then randomly choose a few to come up and solve on the board. Or they can hold up their answers for you to quickly check.
This will help you quickly assess who’s understanding the material and who needs more help.
It also allows you to provide immediate feedback and answer any questions students may have.
Doing spot checks like this throughout the semester can save you a lot of time in the long run as you won’t have to grade as much material at the end.
If you’re spending hours and hours grading assignments every week, you really need to make it a priority to find ways to save time. Otherwise, you’ll quickly become bogged down and burned out.
By following the tips in this article, you can make grading more efficient and less time-consuming without sacrificing quality.
So take the opportunity to implement a few of these time saving tips and see how they work for you. You may just find that your grading load becomes a lot more manageable.
How much time do you spend grading assignments each week? Let us know by leaving a comment below.