Miscellaneous Classroom Innovations

"Paperless Grading" of Handwritten Homework: Electronic Process and Assessment

  • Susan C. Schneider (Marquette University)


The typical engineering homework assignment may involve sketches, formulas with special symbols, as well as calculation steps. The most time efficient way for students to do this work is by hand, on paper. In terms of grading such assignments, it is faster and easier for instructors to handwrite comments than to add typewritten comments via text box, sticky note, etc. The computer and printing technologies available to instructors and students have progressed to the point where the use of electronic submission and grading for assigned work is viable, both in terms of ease of use and the benefits accrued – even for handwritten assignments.

The goal for this project is to implement and assess a “paperless grading” process for handwritten homework assignments which allows for both electronic submission and return of the assignments. This process also allows the grader to “mark-up” the papers with handwritten comments.

In spring 2013, the 33 students in the “Engineering Systems” class participated in a semester long trial of a paperless grading process for their homework assignments. An iPad was used as the homework grading platform coupled with the university’s course management system. At the end of the semester, the students completed a survey with questions which asked them to compare the paperless process with the process associated with the more traditional homework submission and grading process as well as their opinions on possible benefits or disadvantages of the paperless process. Also included were questions asking for their suggestions for improvements on the paperless process. Student feedback from this first trial was used to make some enhancements to the paperless process which was repeated in the spring 2014 offering of the class with 60 students who then completed the same survey used in 2013.

This study shows that the penultimate “hold out” of going paperless – handwritten homework – can be accomplished with the hybrid process to be described in this paper. All participants in both semesters – students, graders, and instructor – concur that paperless grading is the way to go.

In this paper, a more detailed description of the paperless grading process for handwritten homework will be presented. In addition, the quantitative results of the project evaluation for both semesters will be discussed as well as suggestions for future improvements in the process.

How to Cite:

Schneider, S. C., (2014) “"Paperless Grading" of Handwritten Homework: Electronic Process and Assessment”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/aseenmw2014.1035

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Susan C. Schneider

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed