Saturday, March 16, 2013

Data tracking and display for personal motivation

Here is a more personal case of data display - an extremely low-tech management information system of sorts.

I have a lot of grading and no teaching assistant; in a typical week, I need to grade about nine sets of assignments. Last semester, I fell behind, so this semester I was determined to stay on top of things.

I needed a system that would both track my grading, provide me with a reward, and allow others to monitor my progress. Not that anyone in my department is watching over my shoulder, but the fact that they could is an incentive.

Thus, the Peeps calendar with Lego Star Wars stickers. Every assignment I grade, I get a sticker. Yes, motivating me is much like motivating a toddler. As you can see here, I try to reserve grading for Monday through Friday. I was doing all right until the week of Feb. 17-23, when I was laid low by a nasty cold and it was all I could do to drag myself to class.

After a few weeks, I added to the system with a small white board that lists assignments that are turned in but not yet graded. It handily beats the system of sticky notes I was using!

Although this seems like a rather minor application of data display (and certainly an inelegant one), it has provided me with some useful feedback. I have found myself getting slightly behind in March, for example, primarily because advising takes up much of my time in the period before fall registration (as you can see on the white board). Knowing that allows me to decide how to tackle the problem before it gets out of hand, and in time to give students realistic midterm grades. Also, I get stickers.

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