I am a big fan of anonymous grading. If you want to be fair to your students (and to be perceived as fair by them), there is just no excuse besides laziness or tradition for insisting on knowing their names when you evaluate their work. I am pleased to see that Professor Joe Cruz agrees.

Grading on all writing assignments will be anonymous. Please turn in your papers with only your Williams ID number on it in some unobtrusive place.

Anonymous grading is one way of assuring that the collegiality of our interactions does not cloud my assessment of your work. Grading blindly is not a perfect mechanism for this purpose. One crucial disadvantage to anonymous grading is that the instructor will not know when your work is systematically inadequate and will not approach you with concerns about your writing. As a result, there is an additional burden of maturity and responsibility on your shoulders. You must elect to visit office hours, to discuss your work with the teaching assistant, and to seek out informal opportunities to improve your writing.

Great stuff. Questions:

1) Have any of our readers had experience with anonymous grading at Williams or elsewhere?

2) Do many (any?) other professors at Williams do the same? If not, why not?

And, lest I be accused of sucking up to Joe, I’ll note this old-fashioned exhortation.

For this course you will write FOUR essays, 5-6 pages each (7 maximum, strictly enforced).

Page counts! Come on, Joe. Kids today are experts in font selection and margin adjustment. They can turn 1500 words into 4 pages or 8 pages or anything in between with ease. If you really want the essays to be a specific length, then you need to assign a word count and require students to put the word count on the front page. Now, to be fair, Joe does specify that “Essays should be typewritten, double spaced in a 12 point font with 1 inch margins.” But, in an age of word-counters in every editing program, it seems that a word count would achieve Joe’s goal in a much more straightforward fashion. It is also the standard method of measuring length in other publishing domains.

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