Grades and Record-Keeping
Keeping all your students’ assignments and academic information organized is crucial to teaching.
The Grades tool in bCourses deserves special mention because it can save you an enormous amount of time, especially in large courses in which grades are based on point accumulation and percentages. These systems also keep your grading data backed up and secure. Check with your Instructor of Record to see whether this tool will be used in your course and to work out the details.
Gradescope is a platform designed to help with the collection and grading of assignments. It offers a variety of features geared towards larger classrooms. For example, it can group assignments with similar answers so they can be given the same grade. Comments on assignments are saved so that the grader can save time when addressing a common mistake. Additionally, they have support staff available to help.
The bCourses Assignments tool allows students to submit their work electronically. Additionally, bCourses Assignments has SpeedGrader, which makes it possible for the GSI to write comments to the student within the student’s assignment without downloading and re-uploading the file.
Another alternative is Google Docs. Students can compose their work on their bDrive and then share the final product with you, or you can make comments on a draft. This is a safe and secure way to exchange digital copies of assignments that also eliminates the need for downloading and uploading documents.
Many instructors insist on paper printouts submitted in person, either in class or in their office mailboxes. One reason is that they find printouts quicker and easier to work with, particularly for marking and making comments. A second reason has to do with preventing one form of academic misconduct: some students have been known to submit corrupt or unreadable electronic files in order to buy extra time to work on an assignment. While the instructor gives the student the benefit of the doubt, the student gains an unfair advantage over those who have worked to finish their assignment on time. This tactic also throws off the instructor’s grading schedule.
The best way to avoid plagiarism is to educate students about the process of writing papers, having them submit intermediate parts of their paper before turning in a final product. These and other strategies are described in the Academic Misconduct and Working with Student Writing sections of this Teaching Guide.
UC Berkeley has a campus license to use Turnitin to check the originality of students’ papers and to generate feedback to students about their integration of written sources into their papers. The tool is available in bCourses in the Assignments section. GSIs should look to the faculty member in charge of their course for guidance on using Turnitin and responding to the results it produces.
GSIs planning to use Turnitin should check out Digital Learning Services’ (DLS’s) Turnitin Instructors Getting Started page to learn in detail how it works, its best uses, and its limitations. More detailed information and a workshop schedule can be found on the DLS website.