For a novice academic, the first experience of marking can be as memorable as preparing for and giving their first teaching session. Yet, while academic reflections and narratives abound for the latter, there is a paucity of literature regarding the former. This study begins to address this lack of literature through an exploration of the experiences of six newly appointed academics as they begin to mark students’ coursework.
In choosing interpretive phenomenology as the methodological and philosophical influences for this study, I committed to an approach which required a search for an ontological understanding of being involved in marking as a new academic, rather than an understanding of what is known about marking.
Each participant’s experience is illustrated through extracts from interviews that reflect rich descriptions of actions, behaviours and intentions, with the objective of evoking a ‘phenomenological nod’ that might resonate with others. Towards the end of the first year each participant reflected on the challenges in relation to their experience of unanticipated emotional effects and ethical considerations. Confidence, processes, accountability and responsibility and judgements emerged from the data as common themes.
The concept of being-in-the-world-of-marking demonstrates conceptually the experiences of the newly appointed academics as they began to come to know themselves as markers and academics; not through the learning of facts about marking, but through their understanding and self-interpretation of their own and others’ marking practices. The experiences shared throughout the thesis support and further develop previous research findings, highlighting the need for additional training and guidance in relation to assessment and feedback within higher education, and reinforcing the necessity for newly appointed academics to be offered formal and informal mentorship and guidance in the theory and practice of assessment.
Sales, R. Assessment practices in higher education: The experiences of newly appointed academics in professional fields from a phenomenological perspective. (Thesis). University of the West of England