Posts by Jonathan O'Brien

Snipping Tool trick for grading purposes


I often use Microsoft’s Snipping Tool to make grading with rubrics easier and quicker. With your rubric and a few key strokes, you can grade clearly and efficiently. See the accompanying short Camtasia video for specifics. I apologize for the gravelly voice and background hum.


Snipping Tool shortcut

Handling late work

For me, implementing a late work policy that is both firm and flexible can be a challenge. As an Instructor, I want to emphasize the importance of handling class responsibilities in a timely manner, while also accommodating legitimate student needs and emergencies. My current policy (outlined below) has been a fair and workable balance between these competing ideals. Focus on the “Exception” clause at the end.

Late policy (from my English Composition syllabus)

In fairness to all, no late assignments will receive full credit. Absence on the day that an assignment is due is not an excuse; the assignment either is submitted on time or it is late. No assignments will be accepted for grading after the final date of the class at midnight.

  • The Timed Essay, Example/Definition Essay, Comparison/Contrast Essay, the Annotated Bibliography, and the Research Paper will be penalized 20% of what the final grade would have been if submitted late.
  • The Journal Entries and Grammar Exercises will be penalized 20% of what the final grade would have been if submitted late.
  • For Revision Groups, you must be present with a hard copy of your paper, and you must be active in reviewing others’ papers to get full points (which vary from paper to paper). If you miss the Revision Group, you can show me a copy of your rough draft signed by the Instructor in the Writing Lab to get five points. Or, you can show your paper to me and we can go over it together to get five points. Or, you can come to the Revision Group without your paper and be active in reviewing others’ papers and get five points.
  • The Employability Skills Rubric will be filled out in in the middle of the semester and the last week of class. For those who do not fill out their Employability Skills Rubric will see a 10% deduction in score, and the Instructor’s grade will be the grade entered in the Grade Center.
  • Exception: If a situation arises where you will not be able to submit an assignment on time, please contact me in person, via email, or on the phone, before the assignment is due, tell me when you can submit the assignment, and your assignment will not be deducted points. This policy applies to all assignments except discussion boards and assignments due on the last day of class.

The exception policy has been especially helpful in promoting communication between student and Instructor, and I have found that it allays student anxieties about due dates. I tell students that they need not specify their reason for not being able to submit the assignment on time. I have found that students are very grateful to have this “out” and the policy promotes student success by encouraging completion. Students are more likely to hand in work when they know it will count for full points, which supports student success. I rigidly apply the late policy for all work where I have received no communication since I allow this exception. Again, I try to manage responsibility and understanding. Overall, I have received good reviews of this policy, and it has worked very well for my classes.