Academic Integrity

I’ve never really felt the need to protest many marks that have been issued to me throughout my academic life. In primary and high school I pretty much survived with common sense, very little study but attention during class.
University has been generally the same for me- provided I engage in the course material (lectures, readings and tutorials) I have passed with credits or high distinctions. Some courses have involved much more effort, some have interested me more, and therefore my attention is drawn to course material more frequently.
I received a disappointing mark today. I know that if you’ve ever studied at university this isn’t new, but the difference is that I had some very specific feedback on this assignment, and made changes according to this feedback, only to have different comments made on the same points! It sounds confusing, but it really isn’t: firstly I had a lesson at 90min, the feedback was “too long- 20-30min max”. I changed the lesson to 30min and was then told in the final submission that this was too long. So, I’ve started the procedure for having the mark reviewed.
My reason for addressing this in my blog is a reminder: as teachers, we have the responsibility to adhere to high levels of integrity when assessing our students. The mark I received has put me in a mindset that makes me want to throw the towel in. I’ve worked hard, and get marks like this, while I am actually working with these kids, seeing the lessons in practice, and I know what works and what doesn’t work with these kids in my classes. That doesn’t mean I’m right, but I have a level of experience and knowledge that isn’t negligible either.
Our marking shouldn’t reflect opinion or preference. They should reflect the level of understanding our students have about a subject. Whether they do things our way or not, we need to remain neutral.
I’m going to try not to quit uni tonight and just chalk this one off to a bad day.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. reinronald
    May 05, 2014 @ 20:08:59

    Truly, giving and receiving grades are two of the most difficult things in an academe. Providing grades tend to measure a student’s over-all capacity on a set of limited numbers. On the other hand, upon receiving it, we are either saddened or satisfied with the results for we firmly believe that it doesn’t reflect us. Still, we must not be troubled by these ratings for numbers aren’t enough to define us. =D


  2. David Jones
    May 06, 2014 @ 08:40:06

    Echoing the previous comment, marking/grading is probably the most difficult task and it’s something that I don’t think we’ve got a good handle on how to do well. I mean that from both the student, the teacher, and I think the current assessment system we use. No easy answers, but reflecting, thinking and then doing something about it is a good first step.

    Your comment about marking not reflecting opinion/preference is one of the more difficult issues facing some learning areas where there isn’t necessarily fixed, widely agreed upon knowledge. e.g when you’re trying to assess creativity, innovation etc. But even lesson planning can suffer this as there are many perspectives on this.

    Sorry, I don’t have any solutions.


  3. christyanneroberts
    May 06, 2014 @ 13:07:37

    If we never give up, then we never fail! I know how you are feeling, and it can be so hard to pick yourself up again. My hardest fall at university was in a subject that I absolutely loved, and worked so hard at, and then received 83% for the subject overall. I know that this was a great result, but I was so desperate to get a High Distinction, and it didn’t happen. I lost my confidence for quite a while afterwards, until I realized that there is more to me then just that one subject. 🙂 I hope you are feeling better soon. In the words of Dory, “Just Keep Swimming”!


  4. chrisdon70
    May 28, 2014 @ 13:04:24

    Late reply from a newcomer to your blog! I was intrigued by your comments on academic marking. I received a fail (2 points shy of a pass) in one assignment I did last year at uni and was devastated and wanted to quit! I am a mature aged student and hadn’t studied for a very long time, I found the feedback very critical on my sentence structure and didn’t feel the marker had bothered to look at the content, needless to say I wrote a letter to the lecturer, had it re-marked, received an apology and actually passed the subject. Students should be able to voice their opinions and be heard.


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