It’s that time of year when lecturers are rarely to be found in their university offices and instead spend much of their time working from home buried under a pile of marking. For some this is a very difficult timeas many lecturers find marking, especially on a large scale, tedious to say the least. But it is an important part of the job and there are some redeeming features…honestly!
Although the marking of coursework and exams has to be done to a tight schedule because of the demands of mark inputters and admin staff, markers still have a degree of flexibility in their work that many other jobs simply do not have. If I’m at my most alert at 6am or 6pm then I can do my marking then. If I work better marking in small batches I can do that, or if I like to sit down and tackle 20 scripts at a time, then that’s OK too! There’s noone standing over me as I sit in my home office surrounded by papers telling me which work practices I must adopt.
The other great thing about marking is that it really does give you a sense of completion, of rounding off the year. You get to find out how much information your students have actually absorbed. It’s a very odd experience to read exam scripts with your regurgitated and mangled lecture notes coming back at you! Of course we do our marking ‘blind’, so it’s only after marks have been awarded that we find out which student got which grade, and that can be quite a shock. The layabout can do amazingly well and the brilliant student can have an awful day: exams certainly are an unusual way of testing knowledge if you think about it!
Of course, there are bad things about being faced with piles of marking: fatigue can quickly set in and it can be difficult to remain objective as another ‘average’ script comes your way. I find it hard not to be prejudiced against students with bad handwriting. But then I must remind myself that this student deserves as much care and attention as the last. Perhaps I ought to become a trained handwriting expert in order to tell the psychological make up of each student based on their scribbles?! That would certainly dispel any marking boredom!