Potential Problems

Problems which arise with assessments in a multi-TA setting:

UCLA website “When teaching with multiple TAs it is possible that one TA may grade easier or harder than another. We highly recommend having a grade-norming meeting with the professor and all TAs before returning at the first assignment. Grad-norming refers to the process of insuring that the TAs and Instructor maintain similar grading criteria across assignments. Read a few of each other's students' work and if possible, come to a consensus about what sort of work gets what grade. Remember that as a TA, you have the right and the responsibility to make your view heard on individual assignments and overall course grades; TAs have more influence than they might expect. Many professors will defer most grading decisions to the judgment of the TA and will only become involved if there is a disagreement. If the professor is willing to do some of the grading, encourage this!”

Personal accounts of TAs at USC:

"One grading strategy that I have used in a team of 5 TAs grading essay exams, very useful for standardizing grading: Have an answer key developed before the meeting. Sit down with all the TAs in the same room. Each TA should select at least 2 exams (if they know the students already, they should try to get some variation between generally high- and generally low-performign students). Cover the names of the students, then send one set of exams counterclockwise and one set of exams clockwise around the room, so at least 3 TAs grade an essay from each exam. Each TA should have a separate paper for comments and grade, so the next grader does not see the grades that other TAs have given. After 3 gradings, the TAs reveal their grades, and discuss. At least a few answers should be read and discussed by all TAs. The goals of this are: 1. identify failings/adjustments that need to be made in the grading key 2. standardize grading between TAs- identify who is grading too high who is grading too low. Help those TAs to meet somewhere in the middle. This can take a lot of time at the start. But it actually helps the rest of the grading go very quickly."

"I've never been in a multi-TA environment as I’ve been confined to relatively small upper division undergrad and grad classes (< 60 students). However I have had to work with graders. Students often want to get a better grade so they’d try to talk to the grader to skim points. However, being the TA I was usually the first point of contact for grades, then the professor. To ensure fair grading (and to make sure students knew the grader was grading correctly) We (the professor, grader and I) would meet weekly to discuss class issues including the latest homework. At that time we discussed homework issues such as whether certain problems were consistently done wrong, where there other possible answers that should have partial credit, did the grader notice anything suspicious, etc."

"As far as grading in a multi-TA setting, I am actually experiencing that this semester. Basically, we've decided to grade our own students' materials. It works out better that way, and since we come into contact with our own students on a weekly basis, it gives them a chance to ask us about their grades directly rather than having to track down which TA graded their papers, exams, etc. What is key for fairness / consistency is that we all use the same grading rubric. Also, a couple of years ago, when I TA'd for another class, there were two of us in a class of about 150 students. There were four exams, so we simply divided the work evenly between the two of us, where he graded 2 full exams and I graded 2 full exams. We made sure to exchange answer keys so that if any students came to our individual office hours, we were ready to walk-them through the answers even if we had not graded that particular exam."

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