I am first year masters student. This past year, I did a first year lab with three different sections. I received the TA evaluations of the said lab and got not-so-great reviews to my surprise. I got around a 3.8-3.9 for two of them and one of them was about a 4.5 out of 5. And I also got 3 written comments. All three comments all complained about how I grade horribly, and I am disorganized. They compared the grade they got with the grades their friends from a different sections with different TAs for similar solutions (they claimed they worked with their friends). One claimed that his friend had marks in the 90s while he had marks in the 70s.
I feel like I am a fair grader. I grade based on the given grading scheme. I take away marks when students make mistakes in concepts or methods (not 2+2=5 errors). I judge how many marks to take off based on how bad the error is. I don't believe in giving students free marks or spoon feeding them since they don't pay attention to my comments (from experience) unless I take away marks. I have noticed assignments left around by other TAs in the lab rooms and seen that some TAs mark very leniently. Some mark lazily, where even if the student has the wrong method/answer, they get almost full marks, and some just act lenient because they say they feel for the students. During proofs, and multiple-step problems, I make sure to go through the steps to point out the mistakes in the concepts and make sure they're getting the full knowledge they deserve. However, I find myself feel horrible because its unfair if they see their friends ending up with much better grades than them for the same amount of work. Should I be more lenient at this stage? This is a first year course, so I can see why they would be weaker in the concepts, however, I have graded for a third year course and realized that students don't know the basics they should have learnt in the first year courses just because concepts are not reinforced to them from the very beginning.
Also, if students come to me about the grades, I either explain why they lost marks or if they have a justifiable explanation, I give them back some marks.
As for the lab part, I think I need to work on speaking with more confidence and such but in general, I think I know how to improve on it.
What is your approach to grading?
This year, I am teaching another first year course, and I find myself taking off points from people who use horrible notation, such as omitting limits when taking them, plugging in numbers into half the equation and leaving the variables intact in the rest, and such.
At this point I am just questioning on whether spending more of my time on checking their steps is worth it if I am just getting hated for it when there are other TAs getting by on being lazy about it and getting better reviews. I want the best for the students but they don't seem to appreciate my methods.
Sorry for the long post! Any advice is much appreciated!