When I was a marker, a student came to meet me to complain that I did wrong in the assignment marking but he didn't bring his assignment. I assumed that what he claimed was true and apologized. Then he just kept complained about something and then asked if I accepted that my marking was bad, and I accepted. He claimed he would tell the university and they would do something to me, and then asked my name and contact information and left. Later I found that what he even talked to the wrong TA. Was this student misbehaving and should I have kicked him out of my office in the very first place? I was only told by the instructor to meet with students to talk about marking issues and have no other idea.

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    I certainly wouldn't have admitted fault without seeing the work. That was your first mistake. Complaining about marking isn't misbehaving and doesn't warrant being kicked out unless the student was being offensive or abusive.
    – Eppicurt
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 0:53
  • @Eppicurt What I replied to the student was "if that is true then it is a wrong marking." Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:22
  • I'm confused. I thought you said he complained to the wrong person? Did you discuss the individual problem and its answer or did they just complain about it being wrong? You need to update your post to include more details than this and be clearer.
    – Eppicurt
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:31
  • @Eppicurt He did complain to the wrong person, but I had no idea about it when meeting with him. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:50
  • I was only told to meet with students to talk about marking issues Please clarify who told you to meet with the students.
    – Nobody
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


If this happens in the future, you should refuse to discuss the marking without the assignment in front of you. There's no need to be confrontational or assume anything suspicious is going on, you can simply politely say something like:

I would be happy to discuss this, but we can't have an informed discussion without looking at the assignment. Please come back later and bring it with you.

It's not clear from the information given whether the student was trying to get away with something, or was just disorganized, mistaken, etc.--nor does it matter at this point. Whether his intentions were good or bad, it doesn't make sense to discuss this at all without looking at the work.

Also, don't let an aggressive student push you into admitting something or making changes. If you see a clear mistake, then it is good to admit it. But beyond this, you need to be careful not to be pushed into doing things.

If you find it difficult to deal with a confrontational student, a good strategy is to defer the decision. Something like:

I understand the point you are making, but I can't make a decision right now. I need to go back and [review the other papers/discuss with the other TAs/discuss with the instructor/etc.].

This will enable you to put an end to endless objections by the student, and then make a rational decision away from the pressure.

If the situation continues to escalate, you may need to tell a student that abusive behavior is not tolerated and you can't continue the discussion.

  • 2
    This is really good advice. Never let yourself be bullied by a student. My two rules to live by: (1) student and teacher don't need to agree on the grade; I will explain my rationale as well as I can, but if the student still does not accept / agree, then too bad, and (2) the more aggressively a student grade-rubs, the more convinced I am that they don't really have a point and know it; students who honestly feel they deserve more points typically don't try hard to piss of the teacher.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 10:56
  • @dan1111 It was my first time of being a marker. The instructor told me that I must meet with students to resolve any marking issues, though I didn't even have an office hour. Before I never expected that marker needed to have a 1-on-1 with students. In my opinion, I can explain the reasoning by email, which is a faster way and how I consulted with my TAs. I thought the instructor was encouraging for face-to-face argument as he insisted meeting. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 18:06
  • @Rapidturtle, I'm not saying anything against face to face meetings. Have a face to face meeting, and give the student a chance to state their opinion. But you don't have to make a decision immediately during the meeting. You can review it later and make a decision.
    – user24098
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 18:10
  • @dan1111 I am just thinking using email can avoid confrontation and conflict. If the students' concerns summarized in the email are not even justified then I can just point it out and refer them to the instructor if they disagree. I don't understand why my instructor seemed to not like this way. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 18:17
  • 1
    @Rapidturtle conflict avoidance is often unhelpful, as it doesn't really resolve the issue. If a student doesn't understand or objects to their mark, a discussion will be much better than email to clarify the concerns and hopefully reach an agreement. It may not be easy, but I think you and the students are both better off discussing it in person.
    – user24098
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 18:29

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