Dissertation grade challenge. Not sure what to think! Watch

infinitetuesday
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I've just finished my degree - I received my dissertation results last month, and I'm really torn about what to do. This is hard to explain, but I'll try! When I was allocated my dissertation supervisor I was worried, as an essay he'd marked for a previous module received 15% less than all of my other essays. (Basically, I'd had 75 and 76% for all of my assignments, 60% from him.) I received very positive feedback at the time with no suggestions for improvements, and when I asked for more constructive critisism to help me improve he said he would get back to me within a week- and then never did.

Anyway, when I was given him as my dissertation supervisor I worried that his grading was out of step with his colleagues, and that as he would be marking my dissertation it would put me at a disadvantage compared to the rest of my cohort. (The course leader had told us that second markers only very rarely challenged the first marker's decision, so I doubt they have any real influence). But I wanted a first, so I worked closely with him and took all of his advice, and his feedback throughout the whole process was enthusiastic, respectful and overwhelmingly positive.

And then I got my result: 60%. And the written feedback was amazing. Apparently there were no problems with content, analysis, style, referencing or format, so I couldn't see where I'd lost the points. After worrying for a weekend, I emailed the course leader and explained that this lecturer had twice marked me lower significantly lower than my assignments usually received, and the feedback gave me no clear idea why. I told him I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to start an official grade appeal, but would be grateful if he could have a look and let me know if he thought I had grounds.

He replied a week later, telling me that the markers had looked again and agreed a new grade of 70%. Obviously I'm really happy about that! I now have a "proper" first overall and not a borderline, bumped up first, but WTF?! I have searched this site and googled, and I've never heard of a 10% increase on a dissertation grade appeal. I did not expect a positive result from my email at all. I'm not even sure what made me send it, but the result makes me think that my supervisor must already have form for unfair, arbitary marking.

I'm posting this for two reasons. Firstly, as encouragement if anybody else has this issue in the future. It IS worth questioning a mark that makes no sense, doesn't fit the feedback and seems completely out of keeping with previous grades. Secondly, I had my mark changed 3 weeks ago and I haven't responded at all, except to thank my course leader for his intervention. I'm happy to leave it there, and probably will, but feel that perhaps I ought to make a formal complaint. Or something. Does anyone have thoughts on what I could do?
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(Original post by infinitetuesday)
I've just finished my degree - I received my dissertation results last month, and I'm really torn about what to do. This is hard to explain, but I'll try! When I was allocated my dissertation supervisor I was worried, as an essay he'd marked for a previous module received 15% less than all of my other essays. (Basically, I'd had 75 and 76% for all of my assignments, 60% from him.) I received very positive feedback at the time with no suggestions for improvements, and when I asked for more constructive critisism to help me improve he said he would get back to me within a week- and then never did.

Anyway, when I was given him as my dissertation supervisor I worried that his grading was out of step with his colleagues, and that as he would be marking my dissertation it would put me at a disadvantage compared to the rest of my cohort. (The course leader had told us that second markers only very rarely challenged the first marker's decision, so I doubt they have any real influence). But I wanted a first, so I worked closely with him and took all of his advice, and his feedback throughout the whole process was enthusiastic, respectful and overwhelmingly positive.

And then I got my result: 60%. And the written feedback was amazing. Apparently there were no problems with content, analysis, style, referencing or format, so I couldn't see where I'd lost the points. After worrying for a weekend, I emailed the course leader and explained that this lecturer had twice marked me lower significantly lower than my assignments usually received, and the feedback gave me no clear idea why. I told him I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to start an official grade appeal, but would be grateful if he could have a look and let me know if he thought I had grounds.

He replied a week later, telling me that the markers had looked again and agreed a new grade of 70%. Obviously I'm really happy about that! I now have a "proper" first overall and not a borderline, bumped up first, but WTF?! I have searched this site and googled, and I've never heard of a 10% increase on a dissertation grade appeal. I did not expect a positive result from my email at all. I'm not even sure what made me send it, but the result makes me think that my supervisor must already have form for unfair, arbitary marking.

I'm posting this for two reasons. Firstly, as encouragement if anybody else has this issue in the future. It IS worth questioning a mark that makes no sense, doesn't fit the feedback and seems completely out of keeping with previous grades. Secondly, I had my mark changed 3 weeks ago and I haven't responded at all, except to thank my course leader for his intervention. I'm happy to leave it there, and probably will, but feel that perhaps I ought to make a formal complaint. Or something. Does anyone have thoughts on what I could do?
Firstly, it's great that you've taken initiative and have got this sorted. I'm glad you got the result you wanted.

Secondly, realistically, you've achieved what you set out to. Yes, this shouldn't have happened in the first place however it's likely this will trigger some sort of investigation into their marking practices. It's entirely up to you whether you want to make a complaint, however I'm not sure what you would be seeking to gain from this. Bear in mind this is two assignments that you have had marked by him and there is no further evidence that he is marking incorrectly. The lecturer may dislike your writing style, for example. Marking will always (to some degree) be subjective.
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