During an intramural teaching forum, I was interested to learn from a Head of Department (HoD) that she didn't consider it her role to correct grammatical errors when evaluating coursework submissions (an essay, say) at the post-graduate level and that she limited her assessments to the content of the essay. I'm an HoD myself and am directly opposed to this, and have strongly recommended to academic staff in my department that the assessment of grammar should be part of the feedback provided to students. My reasons for this are:
- Communications with peers, the public and policy makers are important aspects of the role.
- While a number of our students are non-native English language speakers, there are a number of so-called native English language speakers with atrocious writing skills.
- The students appreciate the feedback they receive and we can detect a substantial improvement in their writing skills.
The other HoD's reasons are equally cogent:
- The university already has a minimum language level required for entry.
- This additional task would impose a heavy burden on her already limited staffing resources.
- Students need only be made aware that there are errors and can seek guidance on correcting the grammatical issues elsewhere.
This is my question to you good folks:
- For teachers, what is the practice in your department and is this practice backed by specific assessment policies?
- For students, what are your expectations about your grammar being corrected?
EDIT: I am interested in approaches from STEM fields, primarily. As @DanRomik points out in the comments, the approach in the humanities and arts may be different.
To put this in perspective, here is part of a report submitted in partial fulfillment of a basic statistics course at the Master's level that I am grading at the moment. The statistical formulae, graphs and numerical results are spot on.
This report uses te data from the study of [redacted] about lizard to do some analysis. Graph 1 shows the survival status of lizard. The value of survival lizard are higher than that of the death lizard.
How would you approach such a submission?
Thank you for your patience.
PS. I have found the related thread here but it focused on peer-review. Nevertheless, I accept that some grammatical errors are so egregious as to make the submission unintelligible. I am not concerned about those submissions here.