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February 15, 2004

Comments

Timothy Burke

I do not consistently mark grammar or spelling throughout a paper, nor do I formally mark down for it (e.g., 5 mistakes = one letter grade down). But I do tell students that a paper which is sloppy enough in its language, form, spelling or anything else that it is poorly communicative will get a grade commensurate with its low quality. Swarthmore students being what they are, I don't see too many papers in that ballpark. Were I elsewhere, I'm sure that I would.

Ruth

Marking mistakes takes time; actually correcting them (as opposed to merely circling them) takes way more time. And then there's always the question of whether students pay attention: unless you're going to sit down with them afterwards and say, "why did I circle this? What's the problem?" most -- the vast majority, I'd guess -- simply won't think about what the marks mean. I've had students revise essays for me multiple times, making the same mistakes over and over, until I finally discover that they didn't understand my notations (such as the standard sideways S marking indicating that two characters or words need to be inverted). And they never thought to ask me what I meant!

That said, I mark mistakes, and I grade down for them. And when I've taught non-English classes (Women's Studies), I've been criticized by students in other majors for making them adhere to "MLA" standards when Psych, say, has different rules.

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