Earlier in the quarter, I had a tough time marking errors. Sometimes I wouldn’t mark any in student work; other times, I would mark a lot. Sometimes I would only mark those that I saw were consistant errors. When I was reviewed, Lisa Ede noticed that I was inconsistant, and she made a powerful insight: With the way I was marking student mechanical errors, it made it appear that if there wasn’t a mark, there wasn’t an error.
I had some resistance to using checkmarks in the margins to mark error, as was discussed last quarter in Wr 511 (and suggested in an article we read). Why did I have this resistance? I was scared – it’s a sacrifice of power; it’s an assumption that the students can find the errors if I only mark that there is an error.
But last night, as I graded the portfolios for the analysis paper for my Wednesday night class, I tried it. I didn’t mark anything except by marking it with a checkmark in the margin (exception: One student consistantly used affect and affective instead of effect and effective, to which I wrote an explanation). And you know what? I feel the best about it that I’ve ever felt. The paper isn’t littered with my pencil marks, I could make a checkmark instead of focusing on whether or not to make a comment or correction, and the students can do some thinking when they revise, or ask about the error if they cannot find it (I am assuming some students will revise).