Lecturer says fresher is either ‘too ignorant’ or ‘too cowardly’ in essay feedback

Students are also angry with the department over the decision to not re-mark


First-year law students at the University of Sheffield have been left outraged over a lecturer’s harsh comments and marking.

In one student’s feedback, a lecturer wrote: “Either you’re too ignorant to know this for certain or you’re too cowardly to trust your own conclusions. These are not traits a client finds appealing in a lawyer.”

The students are also angry with the department over the decision to not re-mark or have a second marker on the papers.

Harsh marking left one student feeling “so bad” with a “sudden rush of low self-esteem”. They told The Tab: “The marking was strict and this was particularly confusing as I have been marked for my formatives and the feedback was much more constructive than this.”

Although complaints have been made to the department, students say nothing has been done. One said: “They took a very defensive stance and seemed to brush over it.

“The department did conduct interviews with people that had bad comments but it seems this has happened before and it’s never been tackled properly.”

The lecturer also compared another student’s work to that of someone “learning English as a second language”.

The university said the Director of Learning and Teaching has met with the lecturer to discuss the feedback, the students’ concerns, and how can they can support students when giving feedback in the future.

Despite the comments, students made the decision to not identify the lecturer publically because of fears for his job.

They said they wanted the focus to remain on the way the department has handled the issue.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “We were sorry to hear that a small number of students were unhappy with some of the feedback and marks received as part of a module.

“We listened to the students’ concerns and conducted a thorough review which found the marks to be sound and in line with previous years. Additional support and guidance have been provided to the lecturer concerned.

“The marks from the module have been reviewed internally and will also be reviewed by the School’s exam board, which includes external academics, in the summer.”

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