Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Marking Narcissus

When I’m reading student work that is quite good, and I don’t have anything substantive to suggest, I often put a tick mark in the margins by passages that I think are particularly well-expressed, just to signal that I’m reading. I’m learning that this strategy can cause problems with students who have worked with me for a while, and who have therefore recast earlier drafts based on my prior feedback, which occasionally includes suggested phrasings for particular concepts.

Case in point: I just received an email from a student who had submitted a strong assignment. Aside from whatever substantive comments I made, apparently I “ticked” four sentences. The student wryly informs me:

I am not sure you realised it but two of the four ticks you put on the assignment were your words from my initial [draft].

Evidently, I must like my style. How embarrassing…

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