As any teacher would say, there are two types of grades: Formative and Summative. Formative grades are informal and meant to guide along a process while summative measure the ability to complete a final product. This sounds great in theory: students get feedback along the way, building a final piece of work, and then demonstrate their skills in one last presentation/paper/product. The project is judged, the students read their mistakes and learn from them, and life goes on. For those teachers who run mastery grading, students are even given the change/required to edit their final work up to a certain level of refinement before a project is submitted, assuring that they'll learn.
Of course, this is often not the case. Many students, including myself from time to time, will simply flip to the back, scan the final grade and think either "whew, I made it" or "sounds about right, I'll take it" or "I have been horribly wronged and must find the teacher's errors". Comments are rarely read, at least in a constructive way, and lessons are rarely taken from the final piece of work. Even in game-based learning, many students still think "what's the least I can do to push this C up to a B so I can have it count?" Improvement, yes. Learning? Not always.
So what's the solution? When grading papers, is it worth writing all the comments and errors I can find, or should I stick to manageable changes? Should the 18 year old adults be getting tough-love or is it still necessary to meet them at "their level" and help them understand? These are questions with no clear answers...but questions that come up every time.
There is one answer I've decided. I think I'm done grading for today. They'll be plenty of time to finish tomorrow. Until then, have a Good Friday.