Student disappointed with mark

(23 Posts)
Traynorbird Fri 17-Jan-20 20:04:14

Just wondering how people deal with this/ if you have any tips or thoughts, I'm meeting them for a chat on Monday.

The student in question did not give any references for their assignment (for the particular work it would have been ok to have fewer than normal, but not zero) so I capped the mark at a 2:2 if they'd referenced it, it would have been in the low 2:1 range.
My instinct is just to reiterate this. I do feel for them as they're a good student generally. Wwyd?

OP’s posts: |
Nearlyalmost50 Fri 17-Jan-20 20:42:52

Did they know they should include references? I would make it really clear in the assignment instructions- I put 'minimum of X references correctly formatted in Harvard format' or whatever to avoid confusion.

If the mark can't change, which our system states (unless there's a procedural irregularity like not taking account of their dyslexia), then I just reiterate that the mark can't change, that it has been checked by another member of staff (if this is true/you have second marking or moderating) but that you are happy to discuss how to improve.

Also, we have marking guidelines which state very clearly whether things like referencing have to be correct and what grade boundaries would apply, so poor referencing would take them into a 2:2 at best. We have to tell students which marking guidelines we are using, generic ones or our own.

It's just a lot easier if everything is very clear from the outset, marking guidelines, procedure for complaints, requirements for referencing and so on, having said that even though all this is in place, I would get 3 or 4 students per essay complaining/wanting advice/seeking a mark change (the answer is no to the latter) and I find that being really upfront about what can and can't happen, and helping them do better next time is usually what is needed.

Reginabambina Fri 17-Jan-20 20:44:46

They might just not know to include references?

Booboostwo Fri 17-Jan-20 20:53:29

What do the marking guidelines say in this respect? Did he seem aware of the relevant literature but did not reference it as such, or did he write the entire essay off the top of his head?

This might all be a bit discipline specific. In my discipline a student could, in principle, write a first class essay off the top of their heads, I.e. without being aware of the literature and using their own, original arguments. So marking criteria don’t tend to mention the need to be aware of the relevant literature. Having said that, a tiny, tiny number of students are every good enough to do this.

Traynorbird Fri 17-Jan-20 22:09:11

Thanks nearly, the assignment was based on one given reference and the brief included a statement saying that some other sources would likely be needed and to reference them using the Harvard style. I did ask advice from my boss on it (as I'm new) and they said cap at a 2:2 . It has been agreed by a second marker as well, I'm mithering really because I feel like I perhaps didn't stress that sources should be referenced strongly enough.

OP’s posts: |
Booboostwo Sat 18-Jan-20 06:26:39

Just explain that to the student that he didn’t do as the question asked. If the question, for example, asks the students to compare and contrast more than one views and the student presents only one view then then answer is incomplete.

Zezet Sat 18-Jan-20 06:35:27

I wouldn't feel guilty at all. You didn't fail him, you didn't ruin his life, you gave a mark according to the work he did, and he can learn from that. How discouraging it would be for those who did the work and the references to learn their classmate will have the same grade for a lesser paper. Referencing is a core principle of academia, too.

Traynorbird Sat 18-Jan-20 08:08:31

Thanks everyone! I will just chat with them & point out areas where they can do better in the next thing, which I'm sure they will.

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historyrocks Sat 18-Jan-20 20:17:11

We've failed essays where there are no references and the essay isn’t particularly great. They would never get more than a low 2:2, regardless of how good the essay is. But this is all made very clear to students.

misspiggy19 Sat 18-Jan-20 20:22:51

You’ve done the right thing. ALL university students know the importance of referencing. Your student was being lazy and hoped they could get away with it. Certainly don’t back track now.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 18-Jan-20 20:27:37

Don’t get into a debate about the mark. Just tell them it’s been moderated and the mark stands. Most unis I’ve worked at have a policy that students can’t appeal their mark, they can appeal the process if they think something hasn’t been done correctly to do with the assignment but not the actual mark.

Students not been happy with the Mark is fairly common. To the point where they try and complain, I’d say on average I get one who wants to take it that far every year including one once who reported me to the student’s union and was taking advice from them. 🤷‍♀️

But generally I find most unhappy students calm down after going through how they could improve and are then accepting of it.

I’ve always taught on courses where every assignment has a marking grid which makes it a lot easier to defend the grade you’ve given. Do you have these for marking? Do the students have clear Learning Objectives? Because if an otherwise good student hasn’t realised there should be more references it seems they’ve been let down by the teaching/direction Rather than the marking.

Dolorabelle Sun 19-Jan-20 10:42:11

You've received some great advice here - for me, re main thing I do is to go through the marking criteria or the assignment rubric for the specific assignment, and also to your University's grading benchmarks/criteria, and show places in the essay where they meet these, and where they don't

Also, I say to the student that they need to focus on feedback, not the mark. The mark is not the feedback. And the feedback is what will help him improve.

And please be aware if it's a young man, and you are a fairly new female lecturer, he may (IME) try it on re your experience and knowledge. Cut him extremely short on that. Students sometimes get panicky and project & transform that panic into a sense of entitlement, which can be particularly projected onto younger female staff.

QueenRefusenik Mon 20-Jan-20 21:52:27

Honestly a 2:2 seems high to me for an essay with no references - I'm currently busy failing my first years for that! Stick to your guns.

gaffamate Tue 21-Jan-20 13:42:50

Ive had this a lot this year - students wanting higher grades but not actually deserving them, not willing to listen to feedback and being quite aggressive trying to challenge the mark (until any male academic says it stands and they take it seriously hmm)

mummmy2017 Tue 21-Jan-20 13:47:45

Could you do a class on reference work, tell student they lost marks by not referencing, that each time they do this they lose the chance of a 2:1 and there is nothing you can do as it is a marking points fail.

Nearlyalmost50 Tue 21-Jan-20 13:53:40

Surely you actually need to make this explicit beforehand though. Not all work requires referencing, such as short critiques, book reviews, reflection pieces and it's always best to outline the minimum expectations beforehand in relation to the marking criteria. If it is in the marking criteria anyway and the student knew you were using that one, then there is less to debate.

Saying 'some sources would likely be needed' isn't specific enough or clear enough about what will happen if you don't use them- now a sensible student will have included them but it is very vague, were you looking for one or two relevant sources, a minimum of 10 (which I would expect for a normal essay)- and what is a source? A BBC website? I would state exactly what referencing is expected as a minimum, that referencing should primarily use academic (i.e. journal articles or academic books) sources, and a minimum of X given.

It's all very well thinking this stuff is obvious, but it isn't.

Pota2 Thu 23-Jan-20 19:05:02

I am shocked that people are asking whether the student knew to include references. That’s how you write a university level essay. You reference other work. You shouldn’t need to be specifically told to do it. I also just marked an essay with no references. I failed it and justifiably so.

Booboostwo Thu 23-Jan-20 20:41:40

Pota2 it’s actually quite discipline specific. In philosophy a student could write an entire first class essay without referencing anyone. The student would be exceptional but very, very few are.

Nearlyalmost50 Thu 23-Jan-20 20:43:03

I understood that this wasn't an essay but another type of assignment, perhaps a critique of one paper. If you depart from the standard format, it's sensible to let students know exactly what is required.

Also, people aren't born knowing how to reference or how many references are right, so I would want to know they had study skills support or direction on that. Students, especially international ones or those from non-traditional backgrounds, may not know this taken-for-granted stuff or pick it up quickly. I have worked with several of these types of students (usually because of a fail or very cutting comments made to them) to get them to meet standard academic requirements- moving them from failing to 2:1s within the first year. They weren't stupid or incapable, they just didn't get the rules of the game quick enough.

If you make your marking criteria explicit and the assessment guidelines straightforwardly described, then if they fail to use references or format incorrectly, you can legitimately mark them down.

Nearlyalmost50 Thu 23-Jan-20 20:46:18

Booboostwo this is very true. I teach an interdisciplinary course with students from across social sciences and some humanities/medicine. The disciplines vary hugely in what is expected, and in formatting, also the use of footnotes differs. That's why I ask for a minimum of X refs and a standard format now.

Traynorbird Thu 23-Jan-20 22:47:47

Thanks everyone, I will be more specific and emphatic next time around. Every other student in the class referenced their work, thank goodness.

OP’s posts: |
SueEllenMishke Sat 25-Jan-20 08:55:44

Just reiterate the LOs and assessment brief and explain the mark has also been agreed by a second markers. Then steer the conversation to how they can improve going forward.

If they're still upset then explain what your university policy is with regards complaints. Providing you've followed policy ( which it sounds like you have) there is nowhere for them to go.

I had a student do this repeatedly last year. It's frustrating. She ended up complaining but all it did was highlight how robust and thorough my marking process was.

Goingtobeoldearly Sat 25-Jan-20 08:59:52

I'm doing my first module with the Open University, so it's not even university level and I know that references have to be in there. However, there is a checklist.

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