Anything but…

And the finished job... not too bad and it should last a while longer

One of the jobs I really don’t like

There are a few things in life that I really don’t like doing… phoning call centres, ironing shirts, darning, mending ripped clothes, replacing zips and pressure washing the greenhouse. It is amazing how much vacuuming I can find to do when there is a shirt to be ironed or a problem with a credit card to be sorted out.

Today, however, I had another job to do that I don’t like. In fact, it’s been looming over me for months (since July), but because the deadline wasn’t until next January, I didn’t actually have to get it sorted out. However, I build up a reserve of guilt that eventually forces me into action. So, today was the day – I had no editing to do (well, none arrived until lunch time) and I was starting to feel stressed that this particular job still needed doing. So, bribing myself with chocolate covered coffee beans (thank you Mr Snail) and the promise of a glass or two of wine this evening, I embarked on my marking.

I love teaching adults, but much of my work is for the local university and this means that I have to set my learners assignments which subsequently need marking. The courses are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and they insist on seeing evidence of learning… which means written assessed work. For me, evidence of learning is the look on my students’ faces when they realise that they understand a particular concept, or hearing them applying principles we have discussed to a situation that’s relevant to their life, or listening whilst they explain a concept to another learner, or seeing information applied in a new context. But that’s not quantifiable, so is not good enough for HEFCW.

A different sort of worksheet

A different sort of worksheet

And so, today I marked. Some of the work took the form of essays, but that was in the minority… I try to be a bit more creative about the assignments that I set and so my marking included looking at graphs, diagrams, worksheets and mindmaps. I have been particularly pleased with a mindmapping exercise which comprises a colourful basic mindmap that learners add their ideas to in any format they want. I know that this sort of assessment is a long way from traditional approaches, but I also know that it suits many learners much better than asking them to construct a linear discussion. Apart from anything else, I like formative assessments – activities that add to the learning process rather than summative assessments – which are just memory tests, asking learners to regurgitate what they have been told.

Unfortunately, however creative I am with the assignments that I set, they still have to be marked and I still don’t enjoy they process. Ah well, it’s done for the time being and so I can now reward myself with a glass of Chardonnay and some Bavarian crochet.

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