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Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC): Responding, Evaluating, Grading

Resources and support for the new core.

(Almost) nobody likes grading papers, but feedback on some student writing is essential for their growth as writers. We want to respond to student writing in the most effective way for their learning. But we also want to do so in the most efficient way for our schedules (and the healthiest way for our neck vertebrae)!


One takeaway from the sites below is that there is a spectrum of our responses to student writing—from “no response” to an extensive back-and-forth dialogue on a paper’s content and structure. Low stakes writing assignments need a low level of feedback, while major writing projects require a tiered set of responses, different at different stages of the work. We should focus our grading energies where they matter most.


A second takeaway from the sites below is that, for high stakes writing assignments, the writing process is our friend. The writing process means that papers need to be done in stages, with early brainstorming, research and discussion, early drafting, rest, content revision, and then editing for mechanics and format. Give only the feedback that matters for each stage of the assignment.


A third takeaway from the sites below is that communicating our expectations clearly, early, and regularly will give students the best chance to meet our expectations. This, of course, is connected to the assignment design section above. Rubrics, example papers, mock grading sessions, early example feedback sessions—these are all ways to make our grading loads lighter down the road.