I have recently read a short paper titled ‘An Exploration of Tutor Feedback on Essays and
the Development of a Feedback Guide’ by Anthea Wilson from The Open University in the United Kingdom.
It is basically an evaluation of tutor feedback for one of the undergraduate modules for
the Faculty of Health & Social Care at The Open University.
I am writing about this paper since students often ask me how their essays and assignments will be marked at a university.
Since most of the international students are worried about their academic vocabulary and grammar, I think you might find the findings of the study interesting.
Have a look at tutors’ feedback for this particular course.
On what essay components do tutors provide most feedback?
As you can see the tutors did not seem to have cared much about language, accuracy, and grammar.
They were much more focused on:
1. Cognitive skills: ways students handling content – interpreting, answering the question, defining terms, using
concepts, developing an argument, synthesis, analysis, and critical skills
2. Content: the use of evidence and source materials
3. Structure: organization of the essay, outlining and paragraphing
5. Style: flow, signposting, clarity
Now, we shouldn’t generalize. Feedback depends on university, course, tutor, and assignment.
There are also tutors who seem to be obsessed with grammar and score students down even for an absence of definite articles.
In my experience, the majority of tutors look in essay and assignments for evidence of critical thinking which is reflected by choice of source materials, level of analysis, macro-structure (outline), microstructure (paragraphs).
Of course, they like impeccable grammar but they also understand that writing in a second language is not exactly a piece of cake.