Color-Coded Grading

Following Chad’s post earlier this week about using rubrics, i thought I would share a method for grading papers that a colleague shared during a workshop.

Following the stoplight method of green is good, red is stop, and yellow is caution, this method involves marking up papers with colored highlighters to provide a visual cue to students as to their overall performance on the paper.  Sections where the student is doing well are marked in green; grammatical errors are marked in yellow, and substantive problems are marked in red.

The use of colors has a number of benefits.  The use of green balances the standard practice of using red ink to indicate problems, and using a separate color for grammatic problems allows us to note the problems without having to explain the problem in detail.  I find that it reduces the amount of time I spend making comments, as the color often suffices to indicate to students the nature of the problem or success without having to generate individualized comments. I find it particularly useful for the grammar comments, which I usually want to note but not spend a great deal of time on. This type of grading is also easily adapted for either hard copies (where you use actual highlighters) or electronic papers (using the highlighter in Word).

The color system is easily understood by students and only requires a few moments to explain when turning back the first paper.  I haven’t yet looked into whether this method works better for students than the traditional commenting method, but I do find that it reduces the amount of time I spend trying to generate comments for papers.

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