I recently submitted my first academic essay in 15+ years. It’s the first of four formative essays forming part of my HEA fellowship portfolio. I received feedback on my essay this week, and have to admit to being rather disappointed. I think C for confused would be the most appropriate grade.
I clearly misinterpreted the question! I did not relate the teaching and learning theory to my practice. That said, the question did not refer to practice – only theory. I also appear to have over-simplified some of the theory. Perhaps in attempt to make sense of alien and abstract concepts? I was criticised for not reading enough literature. Absurdly, the more I read, the more confused I became! I also found it difficult to apply the theory to my practice in a positive way. Perhaps my (lack of) enthusiasm for theory comes across in my writing? I must try to be more positive in the rewrite.
I need to learn the Pg Cert writing style. There is little guidance in the module handbook, and we are told to follow the styles in our own discipline. Unfortunately, I support 7 disciplines, incorporating 3 different referencing styles! Much of the feedback focused on my language. It is now clear that I need to use the preferred terminology, and learn the technique of referencing ILOs and UKPSF values, if I am to be more successful.
The ‘good’ news is that I am not alone in receiving disappointing feedback. Two of my colleagues were also rather downhearted. We met for a consolatory coffee, and exchanged essays and feedback. Interestingly, we had all taken a very different approach to the essay, and were able to compare the rare ‘good’ comments! So far, I have found this group support, and the micro-teach in particular, to be the most useful part of the Pg Cert course.
Finally, I am livid that the feedback criticised my referencing! I would argue that my referencing is superior to most academics! I feel the criticism is incorrect and unfair – something to follow up with my module leader. I have experimented with using RefWorks referencing software in my writing. I teach RefWorks to students, but without any personal experience of how it works in practice. In my undergraduate days, computers were a fairly new idea, and my reference management system was a box of index cards! Perhaps I was destined to be a librarian?