Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Manual Grading in eLearning

We all love multiple choice, true/false, matching or any kind of quiz questions that can be graded automatically by an LMS. We also know that these types of questions are not very effective but we keep on using them because they are easy to come up with and don't require manual grading. This leaves us with the dilemma of cutting corners and using auto graded questions or sucking it up and putting in the hard work to manually grade essay questions and assignments submitted to the LMS. I've decided to suck it up and sacrifice automatic grading for more effective assignments that will need to be graded manually. Now I have the challenge of coming up with a plan to manage the grading of these assignments for +1000 employees.

My plan of attack for managing the manual grading of these assignments is to have supervisors grade and provide feedback to their subordinates. This will take the load off of me and I believe learners will get more out of the experience because they will receive more valuable feedback from their supervisor rather than some guy they barely know(me). Sounds like a simple plan but now I have to put on my "Trainer" hat and train supervisors how to grade these assignments submitted through Moodle. Although this plan does still require work from me to train supervisors how to grade and provide feedback on the assignments through Moodle, I believe the benefit of learners receiving valuable feedback and coaching from their direct supervisor out weighs the work required to train supervisors and definitely beats grading them all myself.

I'm curious to hear how larger organizations handle the manual grading of assignments submitted through the LMS, or do large organizations avoid anything that needs to be manually graded? The +1000 employees that I am dealing with is small beans for a fortune 500 organization but they also have a lot more resources at their disposal.

At this point, I can't imagine handling the manual grading of assignments any other way than having supervisors take on the task but I am very curious to hear what other organizations are doing to handle this task. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions of how to handle this challenge.


Denise Link said...

It depends upon the content to a large extent, of course, but a third option (instead of multiple choice or essay) is to have the learners particpate in a scenario-based simulation of the actual job task, gathering points along the way for decisions they make. These points can be submitted as a score to the LMS, just like any other test score. Scenarios allow learners to apply what they have learned to a realistic situation, which requires a deeper level of understanding than traditional multiple choice.

We have created tests where supervisors or training managers grade the essay questions manually, but we find that more prefer a scenario: they are automatically scored, there is less ambiguity and therefore more standardization in grading, and the experience for the learner is closer to the actual job task.

Joe Deegan said...

Hi Denise,
Thanks for the comment. That is a great solution to the manual grading problem. Unfortunately I need to sort out SCORM bandwidth issues I am having for that to work but that's a whole other post.
The more I think about this, manual grading may not be such a bad thing. It's providing opportunities for supervisors to coach their subordinates and provide one on one support.