• Articulate your learning objectives for the assignment. Do you want students to simply demonstrate an understanding of the material, or would you rather they extend that knowledge by synthesizing or applying what they’ve learned? This saves grading time by helping students write the right kind of essay and by helping you keep firmly in mind the traits that are most important to evaluate and provide feedback on.
  • Provide your students with a handout or rubric that gives specific guidelines, or a checklist to clarify your expectations. Use it when grading the written assignment.
  • Create and use a grading rubric. This can save you time by reducing grade challenges, because students will more likely understand the rationale for their grade.
  • Good papers are easier and less time-consuming to grade than poor ones. Extra time spent giving students guidance through stepped assignments and multiple drafts reduces the amount of time spent on grading, and the students learn more through the process.
  • If you are parsing an assignment someone else has created, zero in on the steps and the learning objectives of each step in completing the assignment.
  • If you are designing your own assignment, how packed is students’ time in your course already? What do they have time for? How packed is your time? How long can you afford to spend teaching the assignment (if necessary) and reading through the students’ papers?
  • Define your policies about receiving, proofreading, and editing drafts.
  • Teach and require students to review each other’s work effectively in peer review teams.
  • When you evaluate student work, keep your focus on the learning objectives of the assignment, or the particular knowledge and skills it was designed to assess. Don’t be distracted by extraneous matters, such as marking superficial mistakes.