Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Can you mark creative writing? Part 2.

I was going to tell you about my secret grade scheme, for my files and institutional admin only, having talked last week about feedback on students' creative writing.

But also I ran into the how much do you criticise issue. And How can you best help a writer to improve without squashing? As a professional writer and self-editor I have to force myself to ignore, or give only slight mention to, grammar and puncuation and spelling errors. I mean, not if they are really really bad -- then I'd have to take the student aside and see about getting help... or... what? So much depends on the level of the course and the students. Even little errors, even typos... I do make a few marks in the margins -- but I let some go by.

My perfectionist editorial self really objects! But I have to tell it/me -- this is a creative writing class, the students are not here to be perfect at grammar but to begin or continue to tell stories, or make poems, convey a mood, create a character etc. However, if their language skills interfere... the skills are so interwoven, ugh, I'm getting a stomach ache just writing this: I feel torn!

So I will leave you with that, and move on to grading, and am very curious to hear from you how you do this. Because I have made this up for myself. In the coursebook, to satisfy any management who look, I put
1 for excellent/very good/hardly any weaknesses
2 for good, some weaknesses, satisfactory
3 for some competence, but many weaknesses
4 for weak, but made an effort
0 for made no effort
It is still a matter of very personal judgment and the student's own level and the course expectation. But at least it's got a number on it for those bosses and computers who can only think in numbers. And guess what, I am being observed as part of the regular cycle tomorrow night, so we shall see if my secret scheme meets with management's approval. What grade for me?

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