How fair is marking? help needed for my article-thanks!


======= Date Modified 24 01 2009 14:01:06 =======

I'm writing an article on how fair students feel that marking criteria is. Any comments, opinions would be appreciated. My field is literature, but I'd welcome responses relating to any discipline.

Regarding the marking criteria for the masters dissertation:
How rigorous is marking? Do you think every reference/fact is checked? Or do you think you're mainly given the benefit of the doubt?
How importance is your works cited page--if there are errors and omissions, how much does this affect your grade?
How important is it to be consistent in style, follow the correct format?
How important is it to try to be imaginative and original? Is it better to play safe and produce a well-researched (straight-forward) paper?
What is the MAIN feature of your masters dissertation (where do your marks lie)? Clarity of argument? Depth of analysis? Quality of research?
If students are dyslexic, do you feel that your paper is marked with greater sensitivity to errors, or not?

Can any one who has ever had feedback please comment on how much these features contribute to the final mark? For example percentage -wise?

I know it's likely to depend from school to school, but I just wondered --in other people's experience, if they agree that the aesthetics of the paper, and the necessity to follow a standardized style format are given too much importance. For example- if a paper is excellent, it could be brought down because of stylistic errors? Does this seem a bit ridiculous, or not?

Any comments will be helpful, Thanks, Maria

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are you talking to us as students or lecturers? as most of us are both.

It would surely depend which uni, which department, which course, which module and which essay/type of coursework!


======= Date Modified 24 Sep 2009 11:49:08 =======
Hi, comments from students and lecturers are both welcome. Whilst I am in the field of literature, I would also like to get an indication of whether or not people in other fields feel that their work is fairly marked. My institution have asked me to write a paper on the problems with strict/standardized marking criteria in postgraduate education, and I'm just doing a bit of research at the moment while I decide exactly what angle I'm going to take. I'm particularly interested in the masters dissertation component. Thanks, M


For what it's worth:

What struck me about the marking of my MA dissertation (in Philosophy) was the very strong emphasis on ticking the 'Research Skills' box above all else. My supervisor suggested the first draft I showed him would have received a mark in the mid-60s - well below what I was aiming at. But the problem wasn't with the content as such; he didn't pick my argument to pieces or anything like that. Instead he told me to do something I'd deliberately *not* done - go off at lots of tangents (in footnote form), to demonstrate my knowledge of the wider context of my research. A dozen footnotes and some general tightening-up later and I got a final mark in the mid-70s.

Even though I understand that research skills are an absolutely essential part of doing postgrad work, it still seems a bit weird that something so (relatively!) quick and by-the-numbers could make the difference between a so-so pass and a good distinction... I'd expected to be judged on the dissertation's qualities as a piece of philosophy first and foremost, with just a few brownie points for the 'wider context' stuff.

But then who knows how those marks really broke down... maybe the tightening-up accounted for a jump from 66 to 70, and the research skills stuff for the jump to 74, which seems reasonable. Or maybe my supervisor was deliberately giving a very conservative assessment of the first draft's merits, in order to scare me into polishing it within an inch of its life!


======= Date Modified 24 Sep 2009 14:03:32 =======
Thanks so much for that. I completely agree with your point that you'd expect content to be given more importance.