At the end of last semester I was faced with a decision. Either I printed out over 500 pages of student papers and take home exams or I graded them paperless, in microsoft word. The thought of slaughtering my printer or my departmental printer was too terrible, so I plunged in and tried to use the Tracking feature in Word. I was surprised to find that I loved it.
On the bottom of the Word window you can find the TRK button. Green means it’s on.
Tracking is a feature in word that allows you to insert text and make deletions visible, in a different color, on a document. Like the Comment feature, it allows you to make your comments or edits visible and distinct from the original text. I did not use Comment because I found that, in tracking, I could more quickly type my comments as insertions in the text of my student papers.
After grading and annotating each student paper, I save it as a file that contains the student’s name, the assignment or abbreviation of the assignment and grade. I put this annotated file in a “Graded” folder corresponding to that assignment and put the original in a folder labelled “Original.” This way, I have both clean and annotated copies of the papers. I email the annotated paper back to my students from the graded file.
As far as record keeping goes, labelling the annotated files by the names of my students enables all grades to be visible by alphabetical order of student names:
The other good thing about this system is that you can burn a copy of both sets of papers, or zip them and store them, and not be stuck with hundreds of pages at the end of a semester that you cannot and should not immediately throw out. You ensure that your students get their papers “back.” Whether they read your comments or not is up to you.
I find that I write more comments when I’m grading in this way. For me, it’s easier to write comments on a keyboard.
I didn’t think I would like it. I didn’t want to like it. But the above advantages make it a done deal. Unless it’s an in-class exam of some sort, I’m grading paperless from now on.