Wednesday, 20 June 2007

We have feedback!

Well, after all this time, the feedback on my essay has finally been returned and I’ve posted it on the Wiki. Click here to have a look. I think you’ll agree that it has been worth the wait. In particular I'd like to send a very big thank you to the assessor for being so thorough and reporting back in such detail.

After all the fuss I made about it here I’m especially pleased to have been awarded a ‘good’ for critical evaluation, something which is far from being a foregone conclusion for me!

Over the next weeks I’ll be commenting on each section of the feedback sheet here, and attempting to relate the assessor’s experience to my process as a writer. As before please do add your voices to mine whenever my reflections strike a chord.

Oh yes, and if you'd like to read the finished essay, you can find it here.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I'd like to congratulate you on your 2:1. Secondly, as a lecturer at Hull University, I have to teach essay writing skills to our new intake (Psychology). I'd like to thank you for your efforts on all our behalfs!!

becky said...

Hi, Well done this has been a really interesting and worthwhile exercise. I would just like to ask you two questions if I may. Firstly, do all students receive such thorough feedback at your institution or was this deemed to be a special case? Secondly did you enjoy the experience and how has this exercise effected your perceptions of academic writing?

James said...

To answer Becky's first question from the point of view of the assessor, I would say that this feedback probably is more than many student coursework essays receive, although I believe in many cases there is a feedback template than prompts markers to make comments in relation to all the assessment criteria. I did approach this slightly as a special case as I was aware this was a special project and the essay had been produced by a unique process. But I tried very hard to apply the same standards and make the same marking judgements as I would normally. Then took perhaps a little more care than usual to set out my comments and explain what I saw as good and less good about the essay as I knew that several people would have an interest in the outcome.

Lynn said...

Thanks, James, for such a detailed response to Becky's first question (and thanks to Becky for such a well thought out set of questions). I agree with James' comment that his feedback is more detailed than would normally be the case in my experience. However, the feedback I have received in my university career has often been broken down into categories such as the ones James uses here. This is incredibly helpful, as you might imagine. Some lecturers have their own proforma which consists of categories and tick boxes within each category. Although this is apparently an unexpressive way of giving feedback, I've found it to be surprisingly informative.

In general I enjoyed the experience of writing and researching the essay, but I absolutely loved the buzz of collaborative writing. I think the relative anonymity of the online medium helped others join in frankly and honestly, which was at times quite daunting! However, the immediacy of the interactions helped me keep up a decent momentum and added an extra dimension to my motivation. It's a bit like working in a library versus working alone - even if you don't talk to anyone the vibe can be quite energising. I'd certainly do it again.

My perceptions of academic writing have changed as a result of doing this. I feel privileged to have had so much feedback from lecturers as well as students. I now realise far more forcefully than I did before that writing whose content strays from the curriculum is likely to be problematic to mark. It seems far preferable at undergraduate level to show understanding of key concepts rather than to go off-piste and introduce entirely novel ideas - I tend to find that kind of restraint a wee bit difficult when I really get my teeth into a topic. In fact, in doing this project I've found out why I often get better marks for essays on subjects I'm not so excited by. I find it much easier then to keep things straightforward.

Indeed, what has been underlined for me is the simplicity of the remit of essay writing. It's like playing a game of Go; the rules are incredibly simple but the game can be very challenging. I think that many of us, especially those who get very involved in our studies, find it difficult to keep things clean and uncomplicated.

Thanks for your questions, Becky. I'm pleased that you found this rewarding.

Lynn said...

Hi Anonymous. Thanks for your comment. When you have been teaching students to write essays, what is the most common problem you've come across? And what single change would go furthest to improve the quality of finished essays?

I'd like to address these questions to other lecturers, too.

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