Some instructors tell their students to ask the markers about the questions on assignments and exam papers after they are marked. But many markers are not quite familiar with textbook or other teaching material. Who do you think should take the most responsibility in answering students questions on assignments and exam papers, markers or the instructors?

  • 5
    How can the "markers" competently do their jobs if unfamiliar with textbook or teaching material? Strange premiss to the question. Feb 16, 2017 at 23:50
  • Is a "marker" dramatically different than a "teaching assistant"?
    – tonysdg
    Feb 16, 2017 at 23:53
  • I know about about, I wonder should the markers be familiar with what they are marking before they do the job. Like the tutorial TA. Feb 16, 2017 at 23:54
  • @tonysdg Some universities seperate TA and marker, and some don't. Feb 17, 2017 at 0:00
  • Both, of course.
    – JeffE
    Feb 17, 2017 at 1:25

2 Answers 2


That depends very much on the type of questions.

Normally a marker who is not the course supervisor / instructor should be given a sufficiently detailed marking schedule. However, even for a very detailed schedule there often is still room for a marker to make judgement calls, and the marker should clearly apply these as consistently as possible. When students simply want to understand why they got the marks they got, then that question should be answered by the marker, in particular when such judgement calls are involved. When a student does not agree, this should be escalated to the instructor.

Other questions, for example whether the marking schedule itself is correct, or whether an alternative answer got the right number of marks, should in my view be answered by the supervisor / instructor -- any dispute over such a matter will in the end involve him/her anyway.

And as a student, If I have reason to believe that the marker is not too familiar with the material, I would go straight to the instructor.

  • I was a marker before. Some students did come to meet me but I just found out they just didn't know why they are wrong or being self-righteous. I was not experienced then so I didn't know how to deal with. For these students I will suggest them to talk to the instructor directly. Feb 17, 2017 at 0:27

In the end, the instructor of the course is responsible for all the grading. However, they can and do delegate parts of the grading to other people, e.g. t the people they hire to mark exams. These markers do their best, but if they are in doubt they have to inform the instructor, so the can decide.

What if a student complains about the grade? Of course, the instructor has the final word, but it still makes sense that the marker can be the first person of contact, since the marker has done the work, they should be capable of explaining the reason behind. If this does not solve the problem, the problem have to be passed on to the instructor who has the full responsibility for the final outcome.

So, some important considerations are

  • The instructor has to ensure good quality of the grading (by hiring good people, giving assistance and support,…).
  • The markers should know about their responsibilities, e.g. if the instructor expects them to explain their grading to the students. If you are hired as a marker you can ask the instructor in advance how this matter will be handled.

When I handle grading of larger classes, I usually tell the team of markers, that I will handle all complaints directly, but that's just how I handle it.

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