The Term Papers

I'm up to my eyeballs in term papers. Marking them is an intensive process, and takes a surprisingly lot of time. I try to spend no more than 2 hours with each paper, otherwise things spiral out of control, and I won't have all my marking done by the final exam. (That's my deadline; I must have term papers marked by the time the class has their final exam. It's been close a few times--I've still been marking while they've been writing their exams.)

Let's do the math: if I have 27 term papers to mark and spend 2 hours on each one, that', carry the one...that's 54 hours of marking. And that's crammed into 10 days. I don't have a lot of free time during those 10 days. That's why I'm not in my office, unless I have to be--no sense spending an hour commuting back and forth when I could be (have to be?) marking.

The papers so far this year have been pretty good, so I've been able to keep up a pretty good pace. Awful papers take a lot of time to mark, because I feel compelled to correct Every. Single. Error. This includes spelling, grammar, style, logic, and breadth/depth of coverage of the topic.

Now don't feel too sorry for me. Or, you know, at all. Term papers are great because I usually learn something new. I get to (have to?) read a few dozen papers on topics I might not ordinarily read about. The hardest part is keeping up my motivation do get through just one more paper. It's easy to procrastinate, and feel the sudden compelling urge to alphabetize my DVD collection by the director's middle initial, or finally get around to cleaning the shower,, post a message to my blog.

I know, I know: Why aren't you marking?

Why aren't you studying?


Anonymous said...

i've always had a question about this kinda stuff, how do instructors keep up the stamina/neutral mindset to mark the middle papers? I have had some experience in committee work and stuff where we sit around for like 5 hours reviewing applications. and honest, although I step out grab a cup of coffee or take a quick breather or something, the middle papers always are really hard to mark. I always get angry when i see spelling errors or grammar errors and stuff. I feel like i'm not being fair to the people in the middle. I'm always more open to being nice near the beginning and always way more 'lax at the end (since you know.. it's almost over), and always more hard in the middle. I try my very very best to be unbiased (don't think i'm a horrible person) but it's just I always gravitate towards those feelings

Karsten Loepelmann said...

How do I keep up the pace? I take breaks. Frequent breaks. When I grab the next paper from the pile and feel a cloud of negativity, I take a break. It's not fair to that person that I'm marking their paper right after slogging through the worst written, dashed-off train wreck of an excuse for a paper I've ever read (e.g., they didn't spell my name right, or their own name right).

If my break goes on too long, I get a different feeling: guilt. "Gee, I really should get back to marking. I've spent 4 hours on my break, and if I waste any more time, I'm going to have to cut back on sleep to finish them in time."

I don't have problems with papers in the middle (or end, or beginning). I've got problems with papers written by people who didn't give it their best effort. I love well-written papers; when people are...passionate (ugh, sorry, I do hate that word) about their topic, and it shows.

Anyway, that's just me.

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