Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to think like your essay marker

Having just finished marking 40 odd assignments for 4th year Undergrads, I would like to share some ways to improve your next mark.

1. Have you answered the question?
I recommend circling the key words in your task question. Re-read your assignment or even better, ask someone else to read your assignment. Has your work been understood?

2. Have you paraphrased your citations?
Read the text and put into your own words what you have read, whilst retaining the original message. Or, you can summarise just the main idea. Either way the source must be referenced. If quoting, make sure it is formatted correctly according to the prescribed referencing style and a page number also needs to be cited. 

3. Have your referenced your ideas?
Where did you get your ideas from? -reference that source. Check that your sources are reputable. Your University's online library is a good start. 
It is acknowledged that students can inadvertently plagiarise. However, plagiarism is  theft and there is a high possibility of getting caught. Universities use software that can check students' work against other material including other students' work. There are different types of plagiarism: passing off another student's work as your own; working in a group of students and turning in similar assignments; submitting work that you have previously submitted; and copying and pasting from an external source. 

4. Have you paid attention to the reference style and formatting requirements?
Check the course outline for your faculty's preferred referencing style. Most rubrics will have marks allocated to correct referencing. This is one area to gain easy marks just by using correct referencing!

5.Have you proofread your work?
The assignment topic may not be the most exciting one, however, re-read your work. Or ask another person to give it a read through. I recommend leaving an assignment 48 hours before submitting just so that you can have a break before one final read-through. You'll be surprised to find what you missed earlier, now that you have a clearer mind.

6.Have you used key authors?
From the literature, who are the key authors talking about the topic? Ensure you are citing credible sources. I suggest using your Uni library's online database. Usually, a unit/course has a list of recommended readings-read these and refer to those that fit with your task. Check the reference list of key articles and books to find more sources.

7. Have you checked the marking criteria?
I can guarantee the person marking your assignment will have the assessment rubric next to him/her when marking. Read the assessment rubric and break down the criteria. Circle key words. Draft an outline from the criteria. Read the 'high distinction' and 'satisfactory' criteria. Mark your own assignment against the rubric when you are doing your final edit.

8. Have you attended the tutorials?
Most likely your essay marker is your tutor. So they will notice if you are the one that leaves tutes early or skips them altogether. If you want to be on your tutor's radar, ask questions (check they haven't already been answered on the discussion board!), get clarification, participate in discussions both online and in tutorials. Be polite too. If you're feeling frustrated about an assignment, it won't help taking it out on the tutor- they are there to help!

When marking, I provide constructive feedback by pointing out strengths and areas for improvement. I strive to be approachable to support and guide students by being contactable to answer student questions via email, on the online discussion board and during the tutorials. 

What makes a good lecturer/ tutor to you?

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