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Undergraduate paper graders make an important contribution to the educational process. Their efforts allow mathematics students to practice key skills through extensive homework problem sets, and to receive prompt feedback about their level of understanding.
This document sets out important information about the duties of undergraduate graders who work for the Mathematics Department, and of the instructors for whom they grade. It does not determine departmental policy respecting the allocation of graders to courses; that is the responsibility of the department chair.
The document is divided into several sections. The first section describes what instructors may expect from their graders, and the second describes what graders may expect from the instructors who supervise them; but each should read both sections.
NOTE: PLEASE ONLY APPLY FOR THE CURRENT SEMESTER, AS WE WILL NOT PROCESS ANY APPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE SEMESTERS.
Instructor Expectations of Graders
- Instructors should expect prompt and timely return of graded homework within at most 5 days of its delivery to the grader. They should set deadlines for this. Note that a minimum of 48 hours should be given to a grader to complete each grading task.
- Instructors should expect grades and marks to be tabulated neatly. The instructor should provide appropriate class lists for this purpose.
- Instructors may expect graders to report on errors commonly made by students in the class. Instructors should discuss the nature of such reports with graders at their initial meeting.
- Instructors should not expect graders to solve homework problems on their own. A detailed answer key should be provided. If partial credit is to be given, the answer key should contain detailed guidance as to the level of partial credit to be allocated to different portions of the solution.
- Instructors should not expect graders to attend class sessions.
- Instructors should exercise managerial responsibility for their graders. Time sheets should be signed and returned promptly. If a grader's work is unsatisfactory (for instance, late or inaccurate), the instructor must take prompt action to resolve the problem (for instance, by calling a meeting with the grader to clarify expectations) and must notify the Undergraduate Director.
- Instructors should be aware of the technical abilities of their graders. An undergraduate grader will normally have taken the course he/she is grading, or an equivalent course, and passed it with a grade of at least B+. However, he/she should not be expected to have the technical ability or background of a graduate student in mathematics.
- Instructor and grader will be notified of the number of hours per week that the grader is assigned to grade. The instructor must not assign more grading than can be carried out within the assigned period.
Grader Expectations of Instructors
- Graders should expect that instructors will provide detailed information about the work that they are required to do. This should include class lists, answer keys, and explicit deadlines for the return of grades and graded homework.
- Graders should expect that the instructor will schedule a face-to-face meeting early in the semester at which such information will be provided and the grader is able to clarify any questions. Graders should be able to ask questions of the instructor during the semester, whether by email or face-to-face meetings.
- Graders should expect that the instructor will sign timesheets promptly.
- If a grader feels that the above guidelines are not being adhered to, he/she should attempt to address the matter with the instructor in the first instance. If after such discussion the grader still has unresolved concerns, he/she should bring them to the attention of the Undergraduate Director.
- Graders should be aware that if they do not carry out their duties in an accurate and timely manner, they are hindering the education of the students whom they serve. Because the Mathematics Department is committed to quality teaching, it will not allow such a situation to continue. Therefore, it may terminate the employment of a grader who fails to carry out his or her duties.
- Note that only full-time undergraduate students at Penn State are eligible to be graders for the Mathematics Department. Part-time undergraduate students will not be considered. Graduate students will also not be considered for these positions. Note also that a grader must remain in full-time student status throughout the semester in order to retain their grading position.
- To be eligible to grade a Mathematics course at Penn State, an undergraduate student must have passed that course or a higher-level course with a grade of B+ or better. The grade of B is not acceptable. (A
higher-level course means one whose course number has a
greater hundreds digit, e.g. Math 140 is higher-level than Math 22, but Math 26 is not.) Special cases (for instance, a student who has tested out of a course) will be reviewed on an individual basis.
- Grader credentials will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Director before grader appointments are made.
- Undergraduate students who wish to be considered as graders in Mathematics should submit the online application form. You will be informed within the first two weeks of the semester whether your application has been successful and, if so, who is your assigned instructor.
- If your application is accepted and this is your first time working for the Mathematics Department as a grader, you will need to complete an I-9 Employment Authorization Form, which is available online, and bring the form to the department office together with suitable supporting documentation,such as a US passport or a driver's license and social security card. (Full details of the documentation rules are provided with the form). Federal law requires that this paperwork must be completed before you start working for the department; since graders need to start work as quickly as possible, applicants must be able to provide the necessary documentation as soon as an employment offer is confirmed by receiving an email message from the Undergraduate Mathematics Office.
- Graders are wage payroll workers and need to complete and sign a bi-weekly time sheet. (These will be provided when appointments are made.) The time sheets are to be countersigned by the instructor responsible and returned to the Mathematics Department Finance Office.
- Rate of pay is currently $8.00 hourly.
- Graders can view their pay information by going to http://www.ohr.psu.edu and clicking on ESSIC.
- The confidentiality of student educational records is protected by Penn State policy and federal law (see Penn State Policy AD11). A grader must not disclose grades to anyone except the instructor to whom he/she is responsible or a substitute authorized by the Chair of the Mathematics Department. Any violation of this obligation will be cause for dismissal.