I give my students the Jim Pryor line: I'm going to be 'lazy, stupid, and mean' when I grade their papers. So, I tell them, they better write clearly and precisely if they want to be interpreted fairly. The 'lazy, stupid, and mean' line is a neat little pedagogical tool to motivate students and make my expectations clear.
But, I do take their papers seriously as attempts to do philosophy. When I leave comments on their paper - even if the papers are confused - I at least assume they tried to tackle the assignment, provide constructive comments, and then give them some version of a 'compliment sandwich' at the end:I like that: the 'compliment sandwich'. I do it too, but hadn't heard that name (though technically, it's more of a 'criticism sandwich', since the criticism is sandwiched between the compliment and the advice, but still...). I wonder about what psychology says about presenting feedback in this form — whether it sinks in, how it's received, etc. Does anyone else serve these sandwiches on student papers?
(1) Here's something you did nicely; (2) Here's something you did poorly and/or can improve on; (3) Here's something to keep in mind going forward.