When students don’t understand our feedback

One of the consequences of my ‘day job’ is that I tend to hear more from students who are disastified in some way with what we do, than from those who are happy. An associate lecturer on one of the modules that I chair had a rather grotty end to 2011 when a student complained about her grading of an assignment – why had she lost all those marks? Incidentally the student got 80+%; ┬áin my experience it is students who are doing very well but who want to be perfect who tend to be most disatisfied – I’m not sure if their disastifaction is more with themselves or with us.

It turns out that the student is not a native speaker of English and she’s convinced that she was penalised because of her poor written English. Not true! (though it might have been – this may not be terribly politically correct, but we’re a UK University and if a student’s written communication skills are not up to par, then they will lose marks). The tutor had given feedback on what might have been done to produce an even better piece of work, but the student doesn’t appear to have understood this. From the student’s point of view, she clearly had some legitimate cause for complaint – and that matters. However, if she would just look at what her tutor has written, understand it, and learn from it, all would be well. But there is a gap between what has been written and what the student understands. Could we have written it more clearly – I don’t know. Hey ho!

Happy New Year everyone.

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