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There have been a few answers and comments on this site where lecturers have noted some useful practices they implement in their teaching, which they disclose in the course outline. Usually this occurs when the lecturer wants to put the students on notice of some practice they have that may differ from practice of other lecturers. Some of the ideas I have read in answers and comments on this site have been good ones, so I would like to collect this advice into one post.

Question: What useful teaching/administrative practices do lecturers disclose as additions to the course outline (especially where these practices differ from the norm)?

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I will get the ball rolling with a disclosure I use in my own courses. Over the years I have found that students sometimes come to me and point out inconsistencies in my marking, where two students have given similar answers and got different marks. While I aim for consistency, sometimes I get a case where I have indeed marked inconsistently. If the lower mark is too harsh then this is a simple fix --- just raise it to the higher mark. However, if the higher mark is too generous then an incentive problem arises --- do I mark a student down for coming to see me with a marking inconsistency? My own view (which some may not share) is that I don't wish to disincentivise my students from raising legitimate marking queries, so I have made it a policy that I will leave the inconsistency in place, rather than marking the higher student down. If the student specifically asks me to correct the mark and mark them down for consistency then I will do so, but I won't do this unless they request it. To put students on notice of this policy, I include the following section in my course outline:

Review of Marks and Consistency of Marks

The course lecturer will make every effort to mark all assessment items in a manner that is consistent from student to student. If students believe that there is an inconsistency between the marking of their own work and the marking of another student’s work (e.g., they get different marks for an answer that is substantively the same) then they should raise this with the course lecturer for review.

The only exception to this consistency principle is this: if the course lecturer finds that a student has accidentally been awarded a higher mark than should have applied for a question, or overall, during subsequent inquiry on the matter by students, the mark will not be reduced, except on request from the student. This is done in order to avoid creating any disincentive for students to discuss marking issues with the course lecturer (i.e., students do not have to worry about raising issues of consistency and then being marked down as a result).

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  • Has anyone ever requested that you mark them down?
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 2:25
  • @Dave: I can't recall. I vaguely remember someone asking for me to mark them down, since they didn't want to receive a mark higher than they deserved. I can't remember for sure though.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 6:47
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I teach some advanced topics and unfortunately, there are times where some part of the class simply would not see any merit in being there. The blame often lies with whoever works on their program, we do have a back and forth with them, but otherwise it is what it is. If that happens, I explicitly give some low-effort options for getting a passing grade: it seems to me that the students end up at least a bit more engaged when having a clearly defined goal.

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