I spent some time hanging out with my colleagues yesterday talking about teaching, which is a rarer event than you might suppose for a lecturer.At least for a sociopath lecturer like myself. While marking some posters and watching the students reel around in hung-over misery, I talked to a couple of staff members about how the student projects generally lacked any sort of experimental design for the evaluation. Later at a seminar on peer marking, there was discussion about whether the quality of feedback generated by peers would be up to scratch or not. The odd thing about both of these conversations was that there was a general sense of blaming the students for not knowing stuff. Mmmm. Maybe we should teach them stuff. Maybe the students can learn how to do things if we show them how and give them practice. An astounding notion, I know. it is one which we often seem to forget. Maybe it is because we [lecturers] are not by and large born teachers. We tend to have teaching thurst upon us when there are no more post-doc positions available.
An interesting part of the discussion on peer feedback was that when the students receieve multiple grades from different class mates for the same bit of work, they begin to realise that there is some subjectivity in marking: there is no One True Mark. Which I know intellectually, but still find slightly surprising when I encounter the notion. I know many students do. One of my colleagues was asking whether this realisation makes students more prone to querying grades from lecturers (as you might expect). I liked the presenter's answer. He said that you can exhaust the students with so much peer reviewing that they get tired of thinking about grades. Har har.