The Other McCain

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‘Awfully Nice For The Professors Who Don’t Have To Grade’

Posted on | August 8, 2011 | 14 Comments

by Smitty

Althouse points to Western Governor’s University, where there is a notion of hiring adjuncts to do the grading.

Should we feel for the adjuncts who have a job consisting of the part of the job that the regular professors are freed from? The photo at the link depicts “Emily Child, an evaluator at Western Governors U., [who] grades 10 to 15 assignments a day, six days a week, working at home before her three children are up or while they nap.”

So… that’s either awfully nice for Ms. Child, who gets to work at home and arrange her hours around household responsibilities… or a restoration of the subordination of women. (Yes, yes, there are some men who keep house and take care of children… especially they’ve trained in an academic discipline that affords few career opportunities and their spouses have out-of-the-house jobs.)

I can’t picture law schools adopting this method of grading, partly because I’m habituated to the burden, which balances what is otherwise the overwhelmly pleasure of teaching law. In law schools, we avoid grade inflation by imposing a curve, with a restricted range for the average and a required distribution of grades (forcing you to at least give some Cs, even if Ds and Fs are optional). We also “blind grade,” identifying the students with code numbers, and it is, in fact, easier to be critical when you don’t have an individual’s name on the paper.

Listen for the squeals when, after enough data are collected to filter out grader bias, when the results are used to show that certain teachers really just suck.

The lure of academia is tenure, which is nearly civil-service level cushy. I expect much dismay, weeping, and gnashing of teeth to come from this practice, if wider-spread.


14 Responses to “‘Awfully Nice For The Professors Who Don’t Have To Grade’”

  1. Anonymous
    August 8th, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

     Does allowing professors escape the onerous duty of determining whether of not their students are ya know learning the material, free them up for some other more important activity? Aren’t professors teaching less class hours now than ever before?

  2. Jorge Emilio Emrys Landivar
    August 8th, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

    Isn’t that typically what grad students are hired for?

  3. DaveO
    August 8th, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

    Isn’t Western Governor’s U a votech or a community college? What have they added to the world’s body of knowledge?

  4. Anamika
    August 8th, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    I used to grade (and teach) undergrad students while working as a TA to my professor in grad school.

  5. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    Disturbing truly disturbing.

  6. Brendon Carr
    August 9th, 2011 @ 1:43 am

    Western Governors University is an experiment in alternative methods of education. Probably it’s correct to describe it as a teaching college (or equivalent) rather than a research-based university. Certainly WGU hasn’t produced any Nobel-prize winning faculty, or breakthrough research. The question is whether all those enrolled in college need access to those things.

    It is certain that, just as the Internet has disrupted so many other traditional industries, Internet-based delivery and measurement of education will disrupt the higher-education industry. Good.

  7. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    Pretty typical, and not at all new, actually, I remember my Reserve troops bitching way back in the 90s about having to pay full tuition for freshman classes taught in 500-student sections by Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi TAs with near-impenetrable accents. Anamika sounds like Joseph Conrad compared to those guys.

  8. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 2:03 am

    I teach English composition at a community college.  With 4-5 courses/semester, I have about 125 students x 5 major papers and 15 minor papers.  So in all, each semester I grade around 2000-2500 papers.  Am I complaining?  Hell no–IT’S MY JOB.  Listen up, you slothful professoriate, and do YOUR jobs.

  9. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 2:51 am

    It would be less disturbing if it’s accent were totally impenetrable.

  10. American Kids Can’t Do Math – Can’t Pass Testing: Obama Grants Waivers | Maggie's Notebook
    August 8th, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

    […] Critics say No Child Left Behind has never been fully funded by either Democrat or Republican congresses. How does more money equate to better math scores? What about the Billions spent since 2001? Anyone? The Other McCain has a similar story – guess who might be grading your kids college papers. […]

  11. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 4:33 am

    Regionally accredited university.  I used to work there, and the people who run it are very professional.

    Some universities are there to teach, and WGU is one of those.  But they’ve made their model available to any other institution that wants to emulate it.

  12. JeffS
    August 9th, 2011 @ 5:14 am

    Well, as disturbing as it is, you taught AND graded.  As AW notes, that’s typical.  At least you had interaction with the students*.

    But hiring a flunky strictly to grade, so the Learned Perfersser™ can do something else?  Please.  That’s pure laziness, and intellectual snobbery at its worst.  “Why dirty my hands with mere grading?  That’s far below my station!”

    Time for the original school to come back into vogue:  a log with a teacher at one end, and a student at the other.


    *:  Poor bastards!

  13. JeffS
    August 9th, 2011 @ 5:16 am

    I agree with the overall thrust of your point; I’ve taken a fair amount of on line courses myself, and you are entirely correct about the positive side.

    But not all experiments are good.  This particular experiment strikes me as a Very Bad Idea.

  14. DaveO
    August 9th, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    It’s blind teaching. With no disrespect to blind folks.

    Professors measure the quality, not quantity, of the professor’s instruction via his/her  own rubric. Without having that critical feedback, the professor teaches blindly – have the students learned? Who knows? Is this a sound investment in the future? Who knows? 

    It is less expensive to the student and equally  effective to check out a DVD from the library on any subject. The student has now been taught what to think, but not how.

    At Purdue a number of years ago, it was normal for TA to walk into class, pop in a VHS video of the professor teaching the class. Periodically, the TA would collect gradeable assignments. The Professor was required to meet his or her students once: at graduation.

    Prostitutes have more facetime with the people who pay them than college professors. Unlike The Professoriat, prostitution is a profession.