At this time of year students are cramming for their exams but lecturers also suffer exam stress too! Of course it’s not as bad as actually sitting the exams, but the pressures of marking this time of year can get intense. What better way to de-stress for a few hours than to do an invigilation stint!
Increasingly academics have to input their own marks into record systems and so this time of year is one of frenetic admin activity as well as actually marking exams. Many colleagues don’t find marking exams horrible, but they don’t like the fast turn-around times and the admin burdens that increase every year.
I enjoy marking: finding out how much (or how little!) of the information and skills I have taught during the year has actually been absorbed by my cohort. I don’t have a choice whether to mark exams or not, but some of you who are on temporary contracts might find you’re offered extra cash to mark exams. It might seem like a lot of work, but I’d take it: marking end of year exams brings a certain sense of closure to the year’s academic activities.
At some universities academic staff also have to take on invigilation duties. This task can veer between the highly stressful and the mind-numbingly boring! Stressful if something goes wrong: the wrong exam paper, noise from a neighbouring room, a student taken ill or caught cheating (all of which I have experienced in only four years of doing this!) Mind numbingly boring because you have to stand in a silent room with no phone or computer to play with, no book or newspaper to read for hours and hours! The advantage is that at least you get a few hours during a very busy time of the term when you can do nothing and clear your mind for a while!