Archive for June, 2010

Back to Blighty

June 7, 2010

So the ‘summer’ holidays are upon us (people here seem to treat this as winter, and whilst it is slightly cooler than when I first arrived it’s not substantially colder and we are still technically in the northern hemisphere here, so it’s not really fair to claim that it’s now winter). General expectations seem to be that hanging around for June and July is not the done thing, so I’m flying back to the UK tomorrow (unless I miss my flight). There are many many many good reasons to be returning.

I see very little point in continuing to write blog entries during this period, so I guess this will be my last entry until the end of July I suppose.

Since I’m not in the UK very much these days I’m naturally trying to squeeze in visits to all manner of different people and places – the next few weeks will see me visiting London at least three times, Birmingham twice and at least one trip to each of Cambridge, St Andrews and even deepest dakest Maidstone as well as occasionally being in my hometown of Leeds. Based on comments made on previous posts this blog certainly has readers as far afield as Bristol and Manchester (or is that Necastle these days?) Anyone wanting to say hello, just drop me a line!

Please sir, can have some more notes?

June 2, 2010

So it seems that over here, following the marking of exams the students are actually allowed to dispute the ‘notes’ (if you take the spanish word they use for marks/results/grades/scores/whatever you want to call them and translate it into English this comes out as notes and you can imagine the confusion this has caused at various times). The result is a constant stream of students coming to my office wanting to see their exam script and have a quick argument. Even if they find nothing wrong with the marking (or should that be noting?) they start disputing the calculation of their grades. Remember they really go OTT with continuous assesment here and consequently actually calculating the final grade entails considerable amounts of tearing my hair out over a spreadsheet since there are so many different numbers with very different weights that have to be plugged into an overcomplicated formula to compute the final grade (three exams each accounting 15%, three other exams whose MEAN accounts for another 15%, a mark out of five given to them by the postgraduates overseeing the examples classes – which I have the power to tweek – accounting for another 15% and the final exam accounting for a mere 25%).

Thankfully this is all over now, and if half the horror stories my colleagues have told me are true I’ve actually got off pretty lightly. I’ve heard stories of students stealing scripts, changing their answers and then claiming the script was marked wrong. I’ve heard of students, realising that they need to find not one or two extra marks, but TEN extra marks (out of 25) to push their grade up proceeding to actually waste huge amounts of time scrutinising every square inch in an effort to pull off a miracle. There have been students who turn on the water works in an effort to gain the sympathy vote.

At least I don’t have to go through this again until December.