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4:12pm on Friday, 14th January, 2011:



We had a staff meeting today.

The first half was spent telling us how we only need to double our student numbers for the department school to break even, which might actually be possible if we weren't already at the maximum we're allowed to recruit under the university's capping system.

The second half was bits and bobs from various committee chairs and section heads, one of which concerned feedback. Apparently, we don't get very good marks from our students in the National Student Survey when it comes to feedback. In part, this is because when we do give feedback, our students don't always recognise it unless we say "this is feedback — did you hear that? THIS IS FEEDBACK!" at them. However, it's also to do with handing them their feedback late.

This is something that is going to happen with my CE217 feedback. Term starts on Monday, and I still have 11 projects to mark. I estimate that it'll be another two weeks before I clear them, given that I'm now having to prepare and present lectures again and supervise my supervisees. This means the students will all get their feedback late.

I wonder, though, whether they would have preferred to get their work back as I marked it? At the moment, no-one gets anything until I've marked all the assignments, meaning they're all late. Actually, though, I could have given over half the students their assignments back by now if I sent them out as soon as I was finished. The mean time of receipt would be much earlier than the last time. Yes, some people would have to wait, but the way it works at the moment everyone has to wait. That's not so much fair as equally unfair.

I asked if it was allowed, but was told no.

I also collared the two members of staff who are second-marking four of my final-year project supervisees. On Monday, these students are due to get the marks back for the interim report they handed in before Christmas. I marked the 8 I had to mark the very next day, but I can't hand in my marks alone, I have to hand in a consolidated mark agreed with the second assessor. I will get into trouble if I don't. However, neither of the second assessors had actually got around to reading the interim reports, let alone marking them. As a result, I'm going to be in hot water.

Sometimes, when students complain about lack of feedback, it's because they genuinely don't get any feedback...

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).