Faculty imparting more...

...while grading less.

The draw
An ennobling profession that lets us touch, transform lives

Ask doctoral students why they wish to pursue a PhD and most will tell you something that ranges from "No other profession pays you to do what you might have done, anyway," to "It's wonderful to see the light bulb go off," to "There isn't a greater gift than the chance to transform lives," to "Who knows where you'll find the next Shakespeare, Einstein or Picasso." So much so that they sign up for years of genteel poverty to earn the right of passage into the profession!

The jading
Idealism meets reality—the reality of budget cuts, overwork or underpay.

Over time, many of these noble sentiments come to be calibrated by the daily realities of academic life. The persistent underfunding of public education, a culture of publish-or-perish, the cynical misplacement of campus priorities and the pressures to pander to students (read customers)—all take a toll on that bright-eyed idealism.

The cynicism
While some persist under adversity, most succumb.

To be sure, many educators hold on to their ideals, subject themselves to the highest standards of teaching, but such faculty are in a minority. The vast majority has had to devise coping mechanisms—arriving far from where they began their noble pursuits.

Humor us with this spot quiz.
Have you ever, as an educator, found yourself ....
  • cutting back on the number of assignments

  • designing shorter assignments

  • resorting to multiple-choice- or true/false-type tests or quizzes

  • assigning group projects (not so much for pedagogical reasons)

  • making the final exam optional

  • replacing written final papers with oral presentations

  • being lenient to avoid the whining (but unwittingly contributing to grade inflation)

  • relying on peer-assessments, not so much for pedagogical reasons, but

.... to reduce the burden of grading?
The renewal
It doesn't have to be like this!

Let's restore student feedback to its rightful place. Let's demand the resources necessary to fulfill the core mission of every university and school system. As we embrace the shift in paradigm from teaching to learning, from sage-on-the-stage to guide-on-the-side and from teacher to student, the role of feedback becomes only more critical. Let's make feedback right—a student right.

The challenges
What gives in the search for higher productivity?

Calls for greater accountability for student learning and faculty productivity have been growing for decades, as States grapple with competing funding demands, the cost of attending college outpaces inflation and the public comes to question the value, relative to price, of a college education. On a different, but related, note, a report from the National Science Foundation indicated that China overtook the US as the world's largest publisher of scientific articles, underscoring the need to help free up faculty to focus on research or on other mission-critical responsibilities. We believe assistance with grading , currently available only to a small fraction of faculty, can go a long way toward freeing them up to focus on what they were trained to do, while enhancing feedback to students.

The professions
Specialization is everywhere, except in Education

Across the professions, educators are probably the only group not touched by the benefits of specialization. Doctors are aided by physician assistants, lawyers by paralegals. Surgeons are assisted by scrub nurses, while audit partners are assisted by audit juniors and seniors (all trained accountants). Justices have law clerks, while executive chefs have sous-chefs. But, across Education, faculty have no such help.

It's 2020; do you know where your grader is?