‘There’s no accountability for the lecturers’: Lancs students respond to delayed marking

‘The long wait for the grade just increases anxiety and stress’

Double-standards between lecturers and students is a heated topic recently, what with innumerable complaints by students about lecturers returning marks late, and getting seemingly unlimited extensions to coursework feedback.

To get to the bottom of this, we asked students to give us their opinions and experiences of double standards within Lancaster, and see if lecturers really are being treated better than students.

‘Marking comments are always half-hearted’

Jack, a third-year Cartmel student, said: “Students put a lot of effort in… and yet we have to wait a long time to receive our coursework back”. Time-frames for receiving feedback is a key complaint of students, as some have been waiting months to receive any form of comments on their work.

He said: “The marking seems half-hearted and lacks the detail required for us to… improve.” Students could be about to submit their next essay without having received relevant feedback from their essays prior; this is going to majorly affect essay marks, as students haven’t been given the necessary feedback to see where to improve.

‘Still waiting on marks for one coursework handed in three and a half months ago’

Amelia, a fourth-year Grizedale student, told us last term: “We’re waiting back on marks for a presentation we did on the 6th of November”. The average time-frame for returning feedback is a month, but some students, like Amelia, have been waiting much longer than this. This can be detrimental for student improvement.

She also said she “only just received group feedback (not individual) for coursework we handed in on the 16th of December, and still waiting on marks.”

‘We were left in the dark’

Tom, a Bowland first-year, said how students are “left with little time… if we want to account for the feedback we’re given” because of how much time it takes for marks to be received by students. He perfectly described the annoyance of not being able to improve on your next submissions of work as you probably only get the marks back from previous essays ridiculously close to your next submissions.

Shockingly, he also said: “In one of the seminars we were told [lecturers] didn’t know when we’d receive our feedback.” He expanded on this by stating how his course was currently “using lectures from the 2020 Summer Term”, showing us that departments are recycling old content whilst students have to continue as normal.

‘There’s no accountability for the lecturers, yet we get penalized’

Jessica outlined her annoyance at how “lecturers never stick to the four-week marking deadline and have seemingly unlimited extensions”, feeding into the obvious student-lecturer disparity regarding extensions.

Similarly to many of her peers, she said: “I don’t think I’ve ever received a mark back within the four-week window”, and said how her department “postpone[ed] their return [of marks] indefinitely.” This all hardly seems fair, as students have a tight window for extensions to stick to.

From our Instagram poll, 88 per cent of students said that there are double-standards for students and lecturers regarding extensions.

‘The long wait for the grade just increases anxiety and stress’

Ami, a Lonsdale first-year, described how students are “given a deadline to the hour”, whilst lecturers have “on multiple occasions this year… have gone far past [the four-week marking period] without notice.

“The feedback is important for developing and furthering our future work, and the long wait for the grade just increases anxiety and stress.”

‘Online learning is hard enough’

Izzy, a Lonsdale second-year, spoke about her Macbook crashing, and said: “The lecturers were so polite about it… but unfortunately you have to deal with the people that work behind the scenes”, who told her that “’tech issues’ is not a reasonable enough excuse.”  This is ridiculous, especially as practically everyone is learning online which makes tech issues are a massive problem, and is something completely unavoidable.

To rub salt in the wound, Izzy told us that her marks were delayed as “[lecturers] couldn’t release the grades because of technical issues”. This is probably the clearest example of “a rule for one”; it’s ridiculous that at university level, students aren’t taken seriously, and are accused of just stalling for extra time.

We as students understand that most of our issues regarding feedback and extensions aren’t the fault of our lecturers, but rather, as Izzy conveyed, the fault of the management higher-up creating absurd rules for students to stick to, but leaving lecturers with a free pass. Usually we only get a couple of days’ extensions, whilst our grades aren’t given back to us for upwards of literal months.

It seems as if the management uni system still believe us to be children who never do our work on time, and are making up ridiculous excuses to snatch an undeserved extension from them; the reality is, there is an obvious disparaging divide between how lecturers are treated, and how students are treated.

We reached out to the uni for comment and a spokesperson for Lancaster University said: “We are aware that feedback is very important to students and staff make every effort to return marked coursework – our policy is that return should be within a 4 week period (excluding university closure periods).  We are confident that this usually happens and departments would look closely at any areas where there seem to be delays.

“This year has been different because of Covid and there may have been more delays while staff adjusted to remote learning, increased workload and new systems – while also juggling childcare or other caring responsibilities during lockdown.”

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