Learning from feedback grades and tutors comments

You will get some kind of feedback on your work from your tutor, although how much and in what form will vary enormously. In some cases, you will just get a grade or a percentage mark. This is most likely to be the case when your writing has been done at the end of a course or a unit. The grade may feel like the most important kind of feedback you could get: it gives you a point of comparison with other students and it tells you if you have passed this stage. It validates you as a student. It can also cause you disappointment if you thought you deserved better, especially if you have put a lot of work into the assignment.

What do grades mean? First, it is important to know that there is no complete agreement in grading written assignments. It is not just a matter of counting points. Different tutors can mark differently and the same tutor may mark differently at different times. Having a second marker helps to ensure some consistency, but tutors will give their own emphasis to the different elements of a written assignment. Second, grading is about some external university standard and unfortunately does not usually take your own progress into account. Therefore, try not to get too caught up in your grades if you are in your first year, as these are most unlikely to count towards your final results. You may need to pass to ensure that you can proceed to the next stage of the course, but this is all for now. If you are not too concerned you will be more likely to feel free to experiment with new ways of working, develop your own style and methods, and tackle more demanding assignments. Although you may be disappointed to receive a lower grade than you hoped for a piece of work, in the long run a low grade may be more beneficial to you. It may make you stop and think and read the feedback to see what your tutor has to say about what went wrong. It may also mean that you take the time to go and see your tutor and ask their advice on what to do next time. With a high grade you may be tempted to forget to look at the feedback altogether, but it is important that you pay attention to the feedback even if you have done really well. Your tutor's feedback should still be able to help you next time.

There may be a statement on your course about what the different grades mean, although it is not always easy to apply such information. Almost always you will find that the higher grades are given for analysis, relevance to the question and the ability to think critically, whereas low pass grades are given for being descriptive, and for just giving information without selection, organization or argument.

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