When tests are passed back, what’s the first thing students do? Review the questions and see which ones they got right or wrong? Or do they eagerly search for the final grade atop the exam? It’s no surprise that students want to know their grade. It’s the same reason they may wait anxiously for the release of their report cards, when parents will see their grades. Grades often become the final word in a student’s success. However, it’s becoming more apparent that a delayed grading system actually helps students overcome the stress and difficulties that come with feeling they are constantly being judged.
Assessing students doesn’t have to be regulated to the final assessment or final draft of a writing assignment. In fact, students can sometimes feel paralyzed as they worry about making mistakes that could result in a negative grade. By delaying the grading process, teachers allow students the space they need to work through their mistakes, discover new paths of understanding, and gain more ownership over their learning.
If a teacher is leading students through a writing assignment, the focus can be placed on a more holistic view. Rather than worrying about grammar, spelling, or structure, students can begin by brainstorming and finding their thesis first. They can take their time to develop their arguments, allowing the other pieces of the writing process to come together as they move forward. The teacher acts as a guide, helping students with their needs along the way. The learning process is fluid and needs to constantly be fed and inspired, rather than relying on a grade to signal the end of the learning.
By holding off on grading the students, they are freed of the pressures of making mistakes and can instead see opportunities to learn and dig deeper into the learning process.
Delayed grading allows teachers and students to focus on the work at hand and the space to make the mistakes necessary to grow.