beandelphiki: Animated icon of the TARDIS from the British television show, "Doctor Who." (try counting on your fingers)
[personal profile] beandelphiki
My biology course this semester is doing this bizarre thing called, "Calibrated Peer Review," or "CPR." (And if THAT isn't a confusing acronym, I don't know what is.) The website describes it thusly:

Calibrated Peer Review (CPR)™ is a Web-based program that enables frequent writing assignments even in large classes with limited instructional resources. In fact, CPR can reduce the time an instructor now spends reading and assessing student writing.

What this means is that, above and beyond the regular classroom work, we're all expected to write three extra writing assignments (around 500-600 words each) and submit them online, "calibrate" ourselves by marking three instructor-written essays of varying levels of technical skill, and then mark and comment on three pieces written by our classmates. If you aren't within a certain amount of allowed deviation when you mark the calibrations, you have to do it again until your calibrations are on par; following that, the marks you assign your fellow students are weighted according to how well you matched the instructor's marking on the calibrations.

I call this system, "a waste of my fucking time - YOU'RE the instructor, YOU mark it," but whatever. I'm not exactly going to sacrifice these grades, either.


I just finished my calibrations and got the results back. I was vaguely surprised to see that my grading and answers to the "guiding marking questions" were in some places off the instructor's by as much as 50%, so I asked to see the full comparative breakdown.

Aaand...apparently, you wouldn't want ME for an English teacher. In almost every case, the deviation was a result of the fact that I marked MORE harshly than the instructor.

The "bad" essay:

Instr. mark: 3/10
My mark: 2/10

My justification: the essay was utter trash. They got a mark for skimming the background material, and a mark for writing SOMETHING. That's all I'm willing to allow.

Also, the instructor gave this person (also the instructor, but we're supposed to pretend it was written by a student, and the instructor does a damn good job imitating crap student work, so nevermind) a "yes" answer for the marking question, "Do the points the author mentioned (in the paragraph about the Leamnson article) effectively describe some part or parts of the content of the link you read about Leamnson's work?"

I'd sure like to know what part of this essay "effectively" describes anything for a marker who isn't...high or something. The sentence structure is such mush that it could be saying damn near anything; but not effectively.

The "average" essay:

Instr. mark: 6/10
My mark: 5/10

My justification: Okay, I knew I was "supposed" to give the average essay a 6-7. We were basically told that straight out in the instructions for this CPR thing. But, as with the previous essay, I just didn't think it was worth that many marks. One of the "paragraphs" was two sentences long, for pete's sake. They followed the letter of the assignment requirements - an introductory paragraph, a paragraph each for the three resources we were told to consult, and a concluding paragraph - but it was very, "meeting minimum requirements."

So...they got a minimum pass. *shrugs*

Also, I apparently found grammar errors in this one that the instructor did not, since they marked it as containing none and I didn't. Hmm. Don't recall what I noticed, though.

The "good" essay:

Here we matched, both giving the essay an 8/10. Whatever. It didn't blow my mind (like it COULD, given the stylistic restrictions), but I couldn't find much wrong with it.

Although in response to the guiding questions, "Does the first sentence define the scope of what follows? That is, does the first sentence clearly indicate that the text which follows will be about strategies the author will personally take to succeed in college?" I put, "No." Our instructor apparently said, "Yes."

Which...hmm. I said no because the first sentence, while perfectly fine in my eyes otherwise, did not actually indicate the essay would be about success strategies the author would personally use. It was fairly general. Not that I would blame a student for that, since I did the same thing - the essay instructions weren't the clearest on that one.

So does this mean that my own first sentence (also general) is acceptable? *mulls*


One major point of confusion: I gave both the average and good essays the benefit of the doubt for the concluding paragraph. But apparently ALL THREE essays got marked down by instructor for not effectively summing up the whole essay.

Which, um. That's not helpful. Now how the hell do I know what I'm looking for when I mark actual student work?! Should I email the instructor? I'm kinda thinking I should. I want a "good" sample concluding paragraph to go off of, dammit.

My best guess is we're supposed to have written the standard, clunky, "recap" paragraph which just repeats everything you've already said.

(For your apparently brain-damaged audience with short-term memory loss. Seriously, if I need to repeat everything in the last paragraph, what were the previous three paragraphs for? And why can't they just start calling it a "recap" paragraph when they teach it in school? That's a lot more honest than "concluding" paragraph.)


Ugh. Student work to mark now, and then a self-assessment before I'm done. And text entry for the next one is due Thursday.

I have a feeling I will need a lot of kinky porn breaks patience to get through this.
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