This last week I have graded more than 180 2-3 page paper proposals for my first year course, the Worlds of Politics. I have been quite pleased with a majority of the paper proposals. The students read the directions and responded accordingly. During the last two days, I also returned a good number of the assignments back to students and have reviewed their assignments with them. Honestly, this is one of the rewarding parts of my job. I enjoy helping the students with their writing and critical thinking. When I review the assignments with them, the vast majority of them appreciate this. And, then, this leads to a short discussion about their topic.
I think that office hours are completely under-rated. Office hours provide the perfect moment to connect with a student and demonstrate both my interest in the material and my want for the student to succeed. This isn’t about a woman faculty being good at “care” work. I know that I have had great office hour experiences with my mentors and some demoralizing ones with other faculty. Perhaps this is why I usually don’t have a problem when my office hours extend an extra 5-45 minutes. I’m fine doing this, when I don’t have to go teach a class or have to get kids at school.
Getting back to grading, I will admit that the marking process is frustrating when a student has not bothered to pay attention to the directions. I don’t enjoy not giving points because basic points outlined in the syllabus and text are not followed. This term I even included a sample strong paper proposal from last term and know that this made a difference with the overall mean score. However, there were still some students who did not demonstrate that they had read the assignment. My hope is that with the next assignment the students will read the directions more clearly.