Have you ever wondered what DELTA tutors write in their feedback for DELTA module 3 assignment? If the answer is ‘yes’, you’re in the right place to learn about it more. In this post, I’ll share some lines from my feedbacks as well as my general thought on this topic.
To begin with…
I should say that this is just my experience and comments on my work. Anyway, strict rules and standards of Cambridge make me believe that tutors from all centers follow the same procedures and principles.
As the assignment consists of 4 sections + the conclusion, an authorised center will give you 5 feedbacks in total. One after you have accomplished each section and the overall feedback when the whole text has been put together. It allows you to stay on a safe ground as a crucial mistake or misunderstanding in section 2 may easily lead to messed up section 3 and 4. The final feedback allows to polish your work or to catch some drawbacks.
NB: One will never ever receive a feedback consisting of only positive notes and praise. Not because no one can create a perfect piece of work but because tutors should always show the candidates how to improve the assignment. This principle is followed by another rule: no tutor can tell you if the work looks like ‘Pass’ or ‘Pass with distinction’. In both circumstances, the feedback will include suggestions for improvement.
You can not receive a feedback on the same section twice. But you may always hope that your corrections were sufficient, getting another feedback to that section at the very end of your work on the assignment.
Start with something positive
All feedbacks include something positive. Even if the section was an epic failure, the tutor will still try hard and find something nice to say. Like, ‘Your style is appropriately academic’ or ‘You have referred to a number of sources and they are acknowledged in the bibliography’.
My section 2 at first was a disaster. For a page of comments and suggestions for improvement, I still got a few lines to make me feel better. Or, maybe, it was just British politeness =)
‘Great to have got lots of things done for this section and I can see you have read some of the right things and gathered some general needs and wants.’
As you can see those kind words generally refer to aspects which are difficult to mess up.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
Well, you didn’t pay for the course to hear those nice things, right? That is why after a short introduction you will get lots and lots of ideas. Some tutors divide them into sections:
‘Reasons for choosing the specialism: The first thing to do is to add a short paragraph explaining why…’
‘Implications for course design: There is one more section that needs to be added to this draft, Alisa.’
Sometimes it goes as one text with a few paragraphs. It may have lots of examples from your work or may be more general.
The main difficulty with feedbacks is their interpretation. In most cases, you cannot go to the tutor and ask for a better explanation or clarification. You certainly can give it a try (and most probably you will know the name of the tutor who gave the feedback), but rules are the rules. In most cases, the commentary is pretty self-explanatory to limit further discussion to zero level.
Some words or features of the layout will tell you a lot about the urgency and the seriousness of the case.
CAPSLOCK – a total disaster
DO SOMETHING FOR ANY AREA THAT THE FIRST NEEDS SHOWED AS IMPORTANT
‘Not pass’ – you are in a serious danger
The assignment will not pass if you haven’t done…
Must / need to – run to make changes
You need to establish some specific priorities for the course before you go on the next section.
…you do this sometimes but it needs to be clearly and explicitly shown.
Should – a very strong suggestion
Clearer reasons as to why these learners need an additional writing course should be included
You may want to – believe me, you really want to
You may want to make it more concrete
Would/could – just think about it, that’s a really good idea
It would be best to develop/modify some of them a bit…
You could strengthen this with a bit more commentary on the results
What else can you find there?
Also, you may get, basically, a list of instructions. The tutor may write a step by step plan of the section improvement.
I also got comments which provided me with options telling me to choose one:
Some candidates choose to outline each implication straight after the issue it relates to; others tend to put them all together into a separate section at the end of this assignment part. It’s up to you how you opt to do it.
Or, even, providing me with examples of how to squeeze everything into a short paragraph:
“Objective 2 (the use of X) is tested formatively through the Y task in lesson 3. Learners will exchange ideas about Z in groups. This will make assessment less daunting (see section 3.2). It will reduce face validity (add definition here) but it will be a direct test of X. One learner in each group will monitor their use of X using the checklist in appendix 5 (objective 7) to increase autonomy”.
(If you are writing your assignment now, use this as a mere example of style and wording, don’t try to copy paste it to stay away from plagiarism)
If you remember, it’s the tutor’s job to give you lots of ideas and suggest more ways of improvement. What does it mean for you? First, you really want to change things marked with red flags. Then, you need to think hard.
First of all, you are always wrestling the word limit and there is no way to add up everything mentioned. I mean, I’d love to, if I had another thousand of words.
Imagine, by the time of the draft submission you had around forty spare words. After you deal with all the emergency situations you, most probably, will be over the limit again. Having cut some words out you manage to reach the desired number. Now think hard and weigh each suggestion if it is worth rearranging your section again to add more comments? Remember, that some comments may need more comments to make them logically intervened into the text. Nothing is perfect and sometimes good enough is good enough.
Next, trust your guts. They are professionals and know better, but this is your work, after all. Feedbacks are still subjective. I got feedbacks which at first praised my choice of issues or were ok with my objectives to get later a feedback which would say that my choice of some issues was disappointing. I could not agree with this point, especially that another tutor did not doubt them. So I just left it unchanged. To my relief, the final feedback did not raise the question of the issues.
You may predict most of the comments if you carefully read the Handbook and, especially, the Examination report. Here you can see the latest report available. You can find more of those from the previous years online.