First year management students have complained to the University after their essay marks drastically changed during the Christmas holidays.
The students received feedback on three essays in the Understanding Arguments in Management module during the Autumn term. However, after moderation during the Christmas break, some students’ marks had gone up or down by up to two degree classifications.
Although it was made clear to students that their original marks were provisional, concerns have been raised over such vast inconsistencies in feedback given from the Management School.
It is understood a proportion of the essays were originally marked by postgraduate students who were tutors in the Management School, which has called into question the ability of them to assess undergraduates.
One student, who did not want to be named, received a low, mid and high 2:2 for the three essays respectively only to be given an overall score of 48 (a high third) once the essays were re-marked. He said “I think it’s made a lot of students really quite despondent because they thought that they’d been doing better than they had been doing.”
However, other students experienced the opposite situation, as their grades increased: “A lot of people in my seminar group have found their marks have dropped quite significantly but in other seminar groups where they have a different writing tutor, a lot have found their marks have gone up.”
Graeme Osborn, YUSU Academic Officer, said that it was “very disappointing when these sorts of instances happen.” He went on to say: “It’s a great shame, especially when it’s first years and it’s the first assessment they hand in.”
However, Osborn defended the role of PhD students teaching undergraduates.
“Research students should be encouraged to teach because they are closer in age and are possibly more able to easily identify with the students they’re teaching, but we do absolutely need to make sure that the University is providing them with the support necessary.”
Peter Kempl, Management Course Rep, stated his confusion over the reasoning behind why the marks were changed so dramatically: “Perhaps there was a bit of confusion with the marking scheme, perhaps different seminar teachers got different information.”
As the essays were the students’ first attempts at university-level work, there has been speculation over whether the difference between A-levels and University work was to blame: “Perhaps there could have been a bit more guidance on how to write our essays,” Kempl told Nouse.
“On the other hand it is good to see that [the department] are trying to solve the problem – we are having several meetings to discuss these problems.”
Andy Charlwood, head of Undergraduate Programmes in the Management School, commented: “It’s quite usual for marks to change from the provisional mark to the final mark.”
However he did admit, “It’s been a bit of a bigger issue this year than it has in the past.”