A timely call for improved feedback

The Economics department’s policy regarding assessment feedback isn’t too lofty, in fact it should be perfectly attainable. Their stated aim is to “provide timely and useful feedback to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students on their progress in relation to both formative assessments and summative assessments”. It reads encouragingly enough. However, meanings of both ‘timely’ and ‘useful’ seem to have been lost in translation. 

A timely and useful response to the product of hour’s worth of stress-inducing labour would be a prompt and comprehensive feedback to examinations; not a 13-week wait followed by a number on a sparse piece of A4. 

Students, who took assessments at the start of the autumn term, received the result on the 12th  of January. That definitely does not qualify as timely. And this tardy response did not qualify all the way back in March when a staggering 19 week wait was whittled down to 13 weeks through students doing what they do best: vocalising their discontent. 

Mass pressure seems to be the only method to induce the department to have a quicker turnaround in assessment feedback. And it’s not good enough. In rhetoric at least, the department appear to be taking student concerns on board, but idle e-mails purporting to claim that they are “looking for ways” to achieve shorter turnarounds are futile if they do not materialise. 

Student satisfaction is becoming more than a form hurriedly given to students at the end of a module, it’s a prominent factor in assessing a departments capabilities and performance in national league tables and therefore affects the University’s prestige. 

Fundamental to this issue is the progress of the student’s performance: how can you be expected to improve if you are given late and laconic responses to an examination you can’t even remember taking? Of course, marking quality should not be sacrificed in favour of a quicker assessment response, but if the English department can provide a relatively detailed feedback form in what now appears to be a FedEx delivery, surely the Economics department can rise to the challenge.

Economics students, and students as a whole, are not paying an escalating tuition fee to receive inefficient responses from their department. What we need is concrete and efficient feedback on essays. E-mails encouraging students to approach the departments on such issues from John Bone are all well and good, but at the rate students are paying they shouldn’t need to complain in the first place.

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