Increase Grading Efficiency with a Comment Archive

One of the big challenges of teaching an online course is managing workload while providing the support and feedback that is essential to student success. A good way to become more efficient is to build an archive of grading comments to reduce the time it takes to provide feedback on assignments. By creating an archive, an instructor could insert a comment such as the following with a single keystroke:

Keep in mind that APA requires a paragraph to contain at least three sentences.

 With another keystroke, the instructor could add the following:

In your application section, you provided some general comments, but make sure to offer specific applications from main points of the article for a specific setting and specific problems. Refer to main concepts from the article, and cite them correctly.

There are several ways to do this. At Liberty University, one of our residential professors puts his comments on the word processor’s clipboard and then inserts them in appropriate places as he is grading papers. Microsoft Word also has a feature called Quick Parts (under the Insert tab) into which you can insert auto text for repeated use. Programs such as APA Grade Assist also provide stock grading comments for numerous writing and APA applications. However, my preferred way of building and inserting archived grading comments is through Word’s AutoCorrect option.

You probably already know that Word has numerous auto corrections already programmed. So if you misspell a common word, Word will automatically correct it for you. How, then, would you use that process for building your archive of grading comments?

One of our professors has countless “evaluative” comments to use as he grades a paper, such as this:

The first section provides the foundation of your paper. In the first section, you need to provide a solid overview of the article. The second two sections are reflections on and applications of the article. Without a solid review of the article, the rest of your paper suffers, as was true here.

This same professor also has hundreds of shorter corrections and comments built in using the AutoCorrect feature, such as the following:

Per APA, papers require a general heading, but the introduction section does not have a heading.

The running heading is constructed using the Word header function.

Please review headings, per APA. You also might want to review the levels of headings.

Please use APA headings. Review the levels of headings if you need to.

Putting comments into your AutoCorrect file is easy, though building your archive will take some time (which will increasingly pay off in grading efficiency!). Here is one way to build your archive:

1. Highlight the comment you want to archive.
2. Click on File in Word 2010.
3. Click on Options.
4. Choose Proofing.
5. Click on the “AutoCorrect Options” box.

You will then see this screen:

In the Replace box, type a short abbreviation of the grading comment, which can be a short word description—anything that will identify the comment for you. Some professors keep a categorized list of their shortcuts, organized by topic (writing, content, APA, etc.), but as you use the comments repeatedly, you will remember the common shortcuts.

You can also construct your archive of “corrections” by typing all the information into the boxes rather than highlighting text first (File<Options<Proofing

If you are archiving shorter comments or even your own abbreviations so that you can simply type your comments faster (mgt=management, apa=APA, intro=introduction, etc.), this approach works best. You type in your own abbreviations in the Replace box and then the full comment in the With box, click OK and then Apply, and you’re set.

No matter how you do it, building an archive of grading comments is essential to increasing your grading efficiency without sacrificing grading quality and without sacrificing grading that is individualized to the student.

For a demonstration of how to use the AutoCorrect feature of Word to improve grading efficiency, view the following short tutorial:

Allen D. Meyer is a department chair in the Center for Counseling and Family Studies online counseling program at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Reprinted from Increase Grading Efficiency with a Comment Archive, Online Classroom, 12.7 (2012): 3,8.