Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 13 - Learning what really matters

As soon as I read a specific email this morning, I knew what I was going to talk about today.
To be honest, I've been planning to write about this for a while, but this was the last shove.

The question for today is: how much does a style guide matter when you're marking academic essays?

I have been a bit disappointed to see a lot of essays recently with incorrect citations, poor formatting, wrong bibliography, etc. It seems that even though we have incorporated these considerations into criteria, the message does not seem to be getting through.

So how much does this style guide matter? How fussy do we want to be?
I'm tempted to say, it does matter, but that we shouldn't confuse it with content.

How do we enforce this?
I have an idea, but it's possibly against my institution's regulations.

If you get a piece of work submitted that goes against the style guide, the student is informed that they have five working days to submit it with the correct format.
The marker marks the work as it is, on the basis of content.
If the work is not submitted according to the correct style guide, the mark is capped (and you could set a sliding scale based on whether the violation is major or minor, rather like a driving test).

If this seems extreme, it is possibly a bit more like the real world.
If you are asked to follow a style sheet, and then submit work that goes against that, you would probably be asked to correct it.
The current system we have doesn't seem to be working, so perhaps we should try something else.

I'd better look into the regulations...

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