I am known as being a “hard marker”, apparently.
And I am coming to terms with that, not as a perverse badge of honour, as if I get some delight over punishing students with low marks. Actually, I work hard to grade consistently, in line with the rubrics I’m given, and with some eye to consistency across other markers. It’s not certain that I’m actually a hard marker, but certain student bodies certainly perceive me to be.
Good think I’m not in the States, where mark inflation means the actual marking range is about 10-15 percentage points higher than the Australian range. Here I make most assignments as somewhere between 55 and 90. 85 is my usual benchmark for amazing. 55 is a pass. Below that I usually need to mark it as a failure and make sure it’s below 47.
But all these numbers mean nothing, in the end, which is what I’m coming to terms with. If I give a 65, or a 75, does this matter, except relative to my own grades? That is, if I awarded you a 65 on one assignment, then a 75 on the next, that should mean something – that should mean that your second assignment was better. But if I award you a 65 and someone else awards you a 75 on something else, who actually cares? You do, because you put numbers on your self-worth as a student.
Most of my marking energy (and time) goes into commenting. I genuinely want students to succeed as students, to improve, to grow, and that includes the area of academic writing. So, yes, I’ll keep on commenting on every little thing you could do to improve, and I’ll keep on marking as I do, without trying to be a student-pleaser, but rather with an eye to overall consistency.
And if that means you think I’m a “hard marker”, all the more reason for you to be diligent, work hard, and earn my respect by turning in exceptional work.