general comments on marking

Just finished marking 80 assignments for a first year undergraduate assessment. Here are some general comments. I’d be interested to know what other tutors or lecturers think.

1) Use of first, second, impersonal, and collective pronouns: they, we, us, you, one, it. Need to be more specific. Who exactly is being referred to? Pronoun has to be appropriate to the context; ‘you’ are not part of the ‘we’ of the article.

2) Sentence structure. If a sentence does not make sense when read aloud, then break it down into the constituent points or ideas expressed in the sentence, and turn each point or idea into a separate sentence. Organise the sentences into a logical order for the points or ideas to make sense. The logical order will be determined by the information required in each sentence. If sentence A requires information in Sentence B then A should come after B.

3) Authors make arguments, they do not simply ‘say’, ‘state’, ‘go on to say’, ‘look at’, ‘talk about’, ‘mention’, ‘project’, ‘think’, ‘illustrate’, ‘deal with’ or ‘believe’ the content of their articles.

Never use ‘about’: ‘talks about’, ‘discusses about’, ‘argues about’, etc.

Positive descriptions of what authors are doing include ‘argue’ and ‘develop’; ‘discuss’ and ‘introduce’ or ‘outline’; ‘engage’, ‘draw on’, ‘assess’, ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’; ‘focus’, ‘explain’, ‘explore’, ‘explicate’, ‘demonstrate’ and ‘problematise’.

Slightly weaker versions of these, but which are still acceptable include: ‘points out’, ‘reveals’, ‘shows’, ‘maintains’, ‘suggests’, ‘judges’, ‘highlights’, ‘describes’

Negative descriptions include: ‘gloss’ or ‘overlook’; ‘lacks coherence’ or ‘lacks focus’; ‘jumps’ or ‘leap of logic’; and ‘does not’ do anything from the positive list (‘does not explore’, ‘does not develop’, ‘does not argue’, etc.).

4) The points of their arguments are not ‘facts’, ‘beliefs’ or ‘opinions’, although they may draw on ‘facts’ as examples. (Unless the argument of the essay is centrally concerned with ‘belief’ or ‘opinion’.) Authors present examples to make a point.

5) The argument is summarised, the article is paraphrased. The point of learning the critical reading skills, which have been central to the practical exercises, is to extract the argument developed in the article, not simply paraphrase the words that make up the article.

6) Isolate the problem. This is the central organising principle of the argument. Points are returned to at a later stage, the threads of the argument do not follow the linear order of words on the page, but follow the nature of the problem as it is outlined and addressed in the argument. What is the nature of the problem the author is addressing? Does he or she address it? What is left unaddressed?

7) The relation between the argument of the author and the arguments of others. The author does not use the ‘ideas’ of others, but how these ‘ideas’ are put into motion as an argument. What argument-based tools or weapons does he or she draw on? (More sophisticated: Does the author appropriately represent and use the tools or weapons of others? This requires you to read the arguments of others.)

8 ) Insert name and student number in header. In Microsoft Word go to ‘view’, ‘header and footer’, write in information, and then press the ‘close’ button.

9) In Microsoft Word you change to double spacing by going into ‘format’, then ‘paragraph’ then ‘line spacing’.

EDIT: fist year? freudian slip…

2 replies on “general comments on marking”

  1. Well done Glen – I just picked up the Year 12 Accounting TEE papers to mark – not too impressed after a quick look at each students efforts. I have to do this in my holidays and don’t get any pay for it!

  2. 1. Use your style guide. Use it. Do not choose not to use it. You will make your marker angry. You do not want me to mark angry.

    2. Do not submit hand written essays. You do not want me to mark angry.

    3. Name, student number and page number on every page. See this pile of paper here? That’s your essays. See this backpack here? It travels with me on 4 buses every day. Help yourselves with headers and footers.

    4. Double space. 12 point fonts. seriphs. I like to write “my eyes! MY EYES!” on single spaced, tiny stick fonted essays. Make me a happy marker. Give me big, fat margins so I can express my glee.

    5. Reference quotes. Don’t plagiarise – I will nail yo ass. Better students have failed to scam me. I know how to use google too.

    6. Blue is not an acceptable ink.

    7. Scented paper is not acceptable. (seriously).

    8. Spellcheck is wiley. Do not trust it to make lexical decisions for you.

    9. Sentences should not be a paragraph long. Paragraphs should not be an essay long.

    …I am dreading the next lot of marking. 1.5 weeks until submission. And counting.

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