Feedback is a big thing in public relations (and other) education today – with students expecting to get informative comments and advice on any piece of work that is submitted. This applies even when someone gets a top grade.
I have no problem with this, although finding the time to do this task justice as well as marking, meeting deadlines for external verification, preparing for on-going teaching, etc etc is a challenge – and never recognised in the payment process.
My approach is to prioritise feedback for those who do less well especially where they need to resit work or will benefit for subsequent assignments. Such students generally welcome assistance in recognising where they can improve and what aspects weren’t to the standard required.
However, I have found some students are quite confrontational and unaccepting of the grades they are awarded and expect justification of the marking, rather than reflecting on their own performance or looking to learn and improve.
They don’t agree that their work is flawed, even when it demonstrates dreadful use of language, muddled thinking, poor referencing, limited reading (etc etc) – all clearly marked on their work and on assessment/feedback sheets. They cannot see their own faults and question those with experience who are assessing their work.
This surprises me as someone who went through education when you simply were told a result and got on with retaking without detailed feedback. You accepted criticism and dealt with it.
But is there now an expectation of getting a pass and so the onus is on the marker to demonstrate otherwise?
What does this mean for PR students when they get into the real world? Where their press releases are likely to be red-penned or binned? When most pitches and job interviews end in failure as only one consultancy or individual can be successful? Where clients and bosses are critical and up the ante every time you deliver a good result?
Sometimes I think I am the first person to tell undergraduates that their work isn’t good enough. I’m told other markers give higher grades – as if that is a reason for me to accept sloppy use of English or poor evidence of thinking.
Like Gordon Ramsey or other experts on television, I’m confronted with the inexperienced who clearly know better than I do. Failing isn’t their fault. Like wannabees in reality shows, they know they will be a star regardless of a lack of willingness to learn, let alone ability, talent or aptitude.
I’m not wishing failure on anyone – but in life, I’ve found rewards come when you are challenged to improve, someone says your work isn’t good enough, or you don’t succeed first time.
Failure is necessary if we are ever to make breakthoughs – and self-criticism is a great skill to learn.
In public relations, it is also a matter of reputation. Mine, the student’s and that of PR itself.