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Faculty Time-Savers: Tests

We could all do a wonderful job developing assignments and grading them if we had more time or fewer students. But the challenge is to balance giving the kind of assignments and feedback that helps our students learn while still having time for a life of our own. 


Here are some tips:

Feedback on tests. Writing comments on tests can take a lot of time, and often students don't look very carefully at the comments we write.  Here is an approach to saving time:


  • Do not write comments on individual tests, just give a numerical score to each question.

  • After the test has been distributed (and after students have had a day to look the test over) go over the test in class, giving model answers.  If you recycle your test questions, you might want to give the model answers on PowerPoint slides, since you wouldn't want some students to have access to them while others don't. 

  • Encourage students who do not understand why they got what they got to resubmit their tests with a written note explaining what they are puzzled about. Explain that they may not talk to you about the test until they have resubmitted it. Promise them that you will not lower their grade, even if on second reading you feel their answer was worse than you originally thought.

The goal here is to be giving detailed comments to those few students who are interested enough to write something about their test and resubmit it to you.


Author: John Immerwahr
Update: June 30, 2011

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