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Uploading student work to Gradescope and other bad decisions (#1189)

Topics/tags: Rants, technology, teaching

I finished my grading for spring semester today. Correction, I completed most of my grading for spring semester today; some CSC-151 students took incompletes [1], and I’ll have to grade those next week [2]. But the completion of my grading means I have time to muse. Because I’ve been grading, I even have a bit of an inclination to muse about grading experiences.

As folks may recall, I’ve adopted [3] a mastery grading system for CSC-151. Students must demonstrate a certain level of achievement on learning assessments (small problems given in quizzes or exams), mini-projects (homework assignments), reading reflections, and lab writeups. The latter two are relatively straightforward: The evening before class, students are supposed to do a short reading and respond to some questions; after each lab-based class session, students submit the work they’ve done. Since those two kinds of work are relatively straightforward, grade levels on reflections and writeups generally depend on the number of each submitted.

Unfortunately, not all students were good at keeping up on the reflections or writeups. And some didn’t realize quite the impact of neglecting that work. So, I got a variety of requests for very late submissions. And, well, I’m a softy.

But late requests create a problem: The work needs to be sent to Gradescope, where all the work for the class lives. How should I handle the very late work? I considered changing the deadline on all of the readings (27) and labs (30). But that’s a lot of deadlines to change. And, for some reason, I convinced myself that I’d need to do bookkeeping about which work was on time, which was slightly late, and which was incredibly late.

So I made a decision. Students would send the work to me, and I’d upload it. After all, Gradescope has a way for the instructor to manage and upload submissions.

But uploading to Gradescope and then grading wasn’t as straightforward as I expected. In fact, I found that I needed to follow a surprising number of steps to upload and grade a reading response.

  • First, pull up the Assignments section of the course. (I do try to keep that up in a tab.)
  • Find the particular assignment on the Assignments page.
  • Click on it. Well, command-click on it (because I want it to open in a new pane).
  • Switch to the new pane.
  • Click Manage Submissions, which appears on the left edge of the page.
  • Click on New Submission, which appears at the bottom of the page, near the right [4].
  • Enter the student’s name or a part of the student’s name.
  • Click on the student’s name.
  • Enter the student’s name a second time. As far as I can tell, Gradescope loads the past work by the student and then clears out the student name field [5].
  • Click on the student’s name again.
  • Copy the student’s answer from however they sent it to me (Word, email, PDF).
  • Paste the answer into the appropriate field.
  • Click Submit & View Submission.
  • Click Next Question. Wonder, Why can’t I just grade it now?
  • Click Grade.
  • Enter the grade and any comments.
  • Click Next Ungraded (just to be sure)
  • Go back to the beginning for the next assignment.

Fortunately, there are fewer steps for the lab writeups, which typically involve file uploads.

  • Find the particular assignment on the Assignments page.
  • Command-click on it.
  • Switch to the new pane.
  • Click Manage Submissions, which appears on the left edge of the page.
  • Click on New Submission, which appears at the bottom of the page, near the right.
  • Drag and drop the files (or click to get a file dialog).
  • Enter the student name or part thereof.
  • Click on it when it appears. Fortunately, this time I only have to do it once.
  • Click Upload
  • Wait for the autograder to complete. Unfortunately, this can take a few minutes. I suppose it’s optional.
  • Click Grade, conveniently on the same page.
  • Enter the grade and comments.
  • Back to the beginning

Is there a moral to all this? I suppose one would be Don’t allow your students to submit significantly late assignments, but that doesn’t fit into my student-centric worldview.

I could set late deadlines to the end of the semester, but that would force me to do some paperwork to tell the difference between on-time, late, and very late submissions. It might also make it harder for students to track the work they’ve done and the standard late deadline (two days after it’s normally due). I suppose I could ask one of my mentors to do the uploading.

I suppose I’ll figure it out when I teach the course again. Or maybe I’ll convince my youngest son to write a script to automate the steps. Perhaps I could write the script myself. However, he’s better at it than I am.

Postscript: I recall an early musing in which I confessed that I find it difficult to write endings. I still do. Maybe it’s something I’ll work on as I resume musing and ranting [6].

[1] It was a difficult semester. Students had personal emergencies, caught Covid, and encountered other obstacles.

[2] Will I also rant or muse about our incomplete process? Possibly.

[3] Adapted?

[4] Why does Grammarly want me to change on the bottom of the page to at the bottom of the page even though it permits me to keep on the left edge of the page as is?

[5] Perhaps I should submit a report.

[6] Or vice versa.

Version 1.0 of 2022-05-26.