The problem of undermarking vs overmarking

Y’know how there are always a handful of students on every course who strongly argue that their course work has been undermarked?

Well, we are in a bind. Of course, given variability between markers, which is completely natural, but which students don’t understand, there is a chance that some students have been undermarked by a couple of %, but equally, there is also the chance that a number have been overmarked to the same degree.

If you agree with the student that they’ve been diddled out of a whole 2% then there is the inevitable avalanche of the whole class wanting their coursework remarked.

This would be the bind….do you agree with the student or take a stand?

I have found that for the first couple of complainants that if I re-mark I say “well, actually, I think you’ve been overmarked”….this seems to stop the rest of the class complaining.

Obviously, this is not in the best interest of the few students who have been undermarked….but in reality this is never more than by a couple of marks….although the students seem to think that they’ve been seriously undermarked, which is rarely the case. Balancing it out, it is in the best interest of those students who have been overmarked!

Realistically, we can’t be re-marking entire modules. Each student might think they are the exception but they blabber to their mates that they’ve complained and in no time at all you have the entire class emailing you wailing for re-marking.

The only pragmatic option is refuse to change the mark. At least this way you are backing up your colleagues. No-one wants to get the rep as the academic who undermines other staff’s decisions.

So, students, your mark is your mark. You seem to think you’ve been undermarked, but have you ever thought you’ve been overmarked? Don’t get so focused on the mark that you are blinded to the feedback you’ve been given. You ignore feedback at your peril, and if you keep ignoring it, we’ll stop providing it


Am I talking out of my ass?

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