I do some part time work around Tertiary Education. I am a casually employed marker.  I’m beginning to become very worried about standards of assignments submitted by students for marking.


My own tertiary studies were completed through the 1980s and 1990s. The drift in requirements for assignment presentation that have evolved from then until now are a distinct worry. Universities have the codes of assignment presentation and students are asked to be familiar with those. However it seems that conformity doesn’t really matter. Some of the things that have caused me concern as a marker are indicated.

Glaring Issues

* Many students do not cite or use compulsory course reference texts.

* Some students do not tackle the whole assignment requirement. If there are three elements, they may only complete one or two of these requirements.

* Title pages are generally not provided.

* There is often evidence in one case of material being lifted from a source but not discussed in detail or particularised as required. There is a generalised response to a specific requirement.

* Students waffle on with narrative discourse when a table or rubric would offer greater meaning and clarity to argument.

* Students tend to write on the side of brevity. When a 1,500 to 2,000 word suggestion is offered, many seem to struggle to 1,000 words.

* Some students write in a way that presumes markers can read their minds or have background on issues that should be elaborated and explained. That presumption can mean that students too are vague about issues and the strategy is one that covers the issue.

* Matters of word usage, paper layout, typing text, paragraphing techniques and double spacing of text are either untaught or forgotten skills. Papers are very hard to read.

* Casual markers are employed on a per hour basis. It is generally expected that an assignment will take around 20 or 25 minutes to read and comment upon. The way in which papers are presented and the need to offer advice about deficits makes this an impossible task.

I wanted to write about this difficulty and share it on my blog. It is a real issue and one I find quite confounding. I wonder whether I should worry about these things or am I just whistling in the wind?

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