Essay marking advice
March 30, 2009 4:41 AM Subscribe
TAs, profs, teachers, markers: give me your best stock phrases for essay comments.
I’m a TA in English and I have a stack of essays coming my way today from my early modern literature class. I’ve been marking these students for the whole school year and I’m sure I’ve repeated my standard essay phrases in my comments at the end to many of them. I use the “shit sandwich” method: start off with something nice, then give criticism of the essay, then end with something nice. It’s not so difficult with the essays that are, say, 78% or higher, but for the middling essays, especially those in the 60s, it’s difficult sometimes to find anything kind to say about their work – it’s not bad, but there’s nothing really fantastic there either. I usually say something very general like “You have some interesting ideas here” or “you make some good points here” at the beginning and then launch into a “However…” in the next sentence. At the end of my comments, I usually say “Good job” or something to that effect for any essay above 72% (usually where the average hits); for those lower than that, I usually suggest that they come see me if they want to talk about this essay in order to improve for the next. But as this is the last assignment before the exam, the latter option is now off the table. Help me expand my repertoire of comments so my students don’t think I’m simply recycling the same comments over and over again!