University essay writing is a nuisance.

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Max&Mindset
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#1
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#1
I love researching and reading the literature surrounding the relevance of the question, however, the feedback I receive makes little sense and doesn't progress me in any way. I'm not an author, I'm a student, all I am able to to do is read opinions and interpret them, anything I come up with myself will be classed as plagiarism, I can only rebrand and rephrase other ideas. I have spent tens of hours on these essays and get maybe a couple sentences of feedback after waiting for months on the results, I know its partly due to the university I am attending, but I really don't see how I can learn what my mistakes are. The only way seems to be more reading.
What do other people think about their respective university's performance regarding marking and how do you intend to better your essay writing skills?
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999tigger
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#2
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#2
(Original post by TastyChicken)
I love researching and reading the literature surrounding the relevance of the question, however, the feedback I receive makes little sense and doesn't progress me in any way. I'm not an author, I'm a student, all I am able to to do is read opinions and interpret them, anything I come up with myself will be classed as plagiarism, I can only rebrand and rephrase other ideas. I have spent tens of hours on these essays and get maybe a couple sentences of feedback after waiting for months on the results, I know its partly due to the university I am attending, but I really don't see how I can learn what my mistakes are. The only way seems to be more reading.
What do other people think about their respective university's performance regarding marking and how do you intend to better your essay writing skills?
Why is anything you come up with yourself classed as plagiarism? Sounds like original though to me. Cant you have a word with your tutor for more feedback or alternatively just buy a book on essay writing if the former is not possible?
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gjd800
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#3
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#3
We spend considerable time giving detailed, specific feedback re essay writing. I think that in our case it is less an institutional thing and more of a discipline thing. Sometimes it is difficult to give comprehensive feedback when you have200 papers to grade to a short deadline whilst keeping up normal teaching etc., but if you aren't getting feedback commensurate with your expectations, maybe you ought to complain about it.

A writing and style guide is always useful, though.
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Lily048
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#4
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#4
(Original post by TastyChicken)
I love researching and reading the literature surrounding the relevance of the question, however, the feedback I receive makes little sense and doesn't progress me in any way. I'm not an author, I'm a student, all I am able to to do is read opinions and interpret them, anything I come up with myself will be classed as plagiarism, I can only rebrand and rephrase other ideas. I have spent tens of hours on these essays and get maybe a couple sentences of feedback after waiting for months on the results, I know its partly due to the university I am attending, but I really don't see how I can learn what my mistakes are. The only way seems to be more reading.
What do other people think about their respective university's performance regarding marking and how do you intend to better your essay writing skills?
I understand what you mean but they are always asking you to read further than the context in front of you. You shouldn’t be essentially rebranding the idea but rewording it to suit the outcomes and module expectations of said topic with your ideas influencing it.
You ideas/thoughts must come out in it somewhere without the usage of first person pronouns - that way you’ve built upon an existing idea but given independent input that may not be what’s normally attached to such an idea. That’s where further reading comes in, as you’ll only be able to understand and be aware of the wider context if you do wider reading - basically do what the lecturer doesn’t expect you to do, surprise the with what you know and how you can adapt it to fit certain topics
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Max&Mindset
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#5
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#5
(Original post by Lily048)
I understand what you mean but they are always asking you to read further than the context in front of you. You shouldn’t be essentially rebranding the idea but rewording it to suit the outcomes and module expectations of said topic with your ideas influencing it.
You ideas/thoughts must come out in it somewhere without the usage of first person pronouns - that way you’ve built upon an existing idea but given independent input that may not be what’s normally attached to such an idea. That’s where further reading comes in, as you’ll only be able to understand and be aware of the wider context if you do wider reading - basically do what the lecturer doesn’t expect you to do, surprise the with what you know and how you can adapt it to fit certain topics
My last essay bibliography contained over 30 references...
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Max&Mindset
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#6
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#6
(Original post by TastyChicken)
My last essay bibliobraphy contained over 30 references...
(Original post by 999tigger)
Why is anything you come up with yourself classed as plagiarism? Sounds like original though to me. Cant you have a word with your tutor for more feedback or alternatively just buy a book on essay writing if the former is not possible?
I usually have one reference for every other sentence, there is even something called self plagiarism where you are forbidden from reworking previous essays written by yourself.
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Lily048
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#7
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#7
(Original post by TastyChicken)
My last essay bibliography contained over 30 references...
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re reading wider than the context set to you though - quality over quantity
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Max&Mindset
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#8
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#8
(Original post by gjd800)
We spend considerable time giving detailed, specific feedback re essay writing. I think that in our case it is less an institutional thing and more of a discipline thing. Sometimes it is difficult to give comprehensive feedback when you have200 papers to grade to a short deadline whilst keeping up normal teaching etc., but if you aren't getting feedback commensurate with your expectations, maybe you ought to complain about it.

A writing and style guide is always useful, though.
I understand teachers are drenched in work and have it very hard dealing with stuborn, tedious students. My issue however is that our work gets graded by PhD students and I argue that they are not qualified for the job so why are they marking our work.
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Max&Mindset
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Lily048)
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re reading wider than the context set to you though - quality over quantity
True, but for that particluar essay I spent an entire week devoted to reading and researching.
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Lily048
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#10
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#10
(Original post by TastyChicken)
True, but for that particluar essay I spent an entire week devoted to reading and researching.
I completely understand where you are coming from don’t get me wrong, I mean I’ve been there so many times in the past year (current final year) that I rely purely on marking schemes, essay criteria and module outcomes as my basis to write an essay, because essentially that’s all you’ll ever be marked on and up against.
You can always ask for more extensive feedback - one of my module leaders encouraged us to question all feedback and criticisms, especially if we didn’t understand it or found it too vague. I’d recommend kindly wording an email to said marker and ask for more elaborate constructive feedback for the purpose of building on it - they cannot deny you this because it’s their job!
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gjd800
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#11
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#11
(Original post by TastyChicken)
I understand teachers are drenched in work and have it very hard dealing with stuborn, tedious students. My issue however is that our work gets graded by PhD students and I argue that they are not qualified for the job so why are they marking our work.
They are (usually) certainly qualified to mark your work, but if that is a point you wish to raise and argue, then you should do so via some official channels.
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Max&Mindset
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#12
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#12
(Original post by gjd800)
They are (usually) certainly qualified to mark your work, but if that is a point you wish to raise and argue, then you should do so via some official channels.
I'm not questioning their intelligence or academic capabilities, but rather their ability to teach. Some of them are from different universities and are often not even fully comfortable with the module or topics. How are they going to be able to give us a reasonable guide to how we should approach the exam. It's like me going to back to A level and trying to teach, I would be dreadful and everyone would fail. I'm trying to learn and my parents are spending an enormous amount of money on me being here, so I expect to be given the tools to succeed.
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gjd800
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#13
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#13
(Original post by TastyChicken)
I'm not questioning their intelligence or academic capabilities, but rather their ability to teach. Some of them are from different universities and are often not even fully comfortable with the module or topics. How are they going to be able to give us a reasonable guide to how we should approach the exam. It's like me going to back to A level and trying to teach, I would be dreadful and everyone would fail. I'm trying to learn and my parents are spending an enormous amount of money on me being here, so I expect to be given the tools to succeed.
I refer you back to the latter part of my prior comment.
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Max&Mindset
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#14
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#14
(Original post by gjd800)
I refer you back to the latter part of my prior comment.
Unfortunately, the reason for this is lack of teaching staff so there is not much to be done. I am also the type of person to enjoy complaining so I will probably not do anything about this. The thread was basically a means for me to be able to rant, so thank you for fulfilling that role, I feel much better now...
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gjd800
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#15
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#15
(Original post by TastyChicken)
Unfortunately, the reason for this is lack of teaching staff so there is not much to be done. I am also the type of person to enjoy complaining so I will probably not do anything about this. The thread was basically a means for me to be able to rant, so thank you for fulfilling that role, I feel much better now...
I get that, really. The only way that your dept will make a significant change, though, will be if you (plural!) start voicing these concerns - they are, it seems to me, legitimate.

At the mo they probably think that the situation, whilst not ideal, is ticking over well enough. If you feel like it is not, others likely think the same. Ultimately you should be getting taught by people that know the topics well enough to run a seminar.
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