#12 – Word Count: 2019

As the new year sets in motion, while most are sat around their fireplace, drinking hot chocolate and watching classic films, I find myself readily sat at my computer, marking my level 4 students’ 2000 word lab report (Hence my uber-creative title). Marking around the Christmas and New Year period, is however completely my choice, and therefore I only expect a small amount of sympathy.

marking screenshot
My comments aren’t always as positive as this, but these are the ones I enjoy giving the most. It serves as some reassurance that what I’ve been telling my students is going in.

Given that I marked 30 reports around a month ago and now have another 32 to mark this time around (due to two extremely kind students deciding to submit and giving me the privilege of reading their work), I will admit that marking consecutive reports does get a little repetitive.

I would say however, that whilst I tend to make a lot of the same comments and come across the same errors/omissions, focusing on the basics of lab reports in such high volume has been hugely beneficial to myself as a researcher. I feel that at times within research and especially lab report writing, the basics of how to structure and convey information can get lost in trying to be “too wordy” and sounding more professional or fancy than is really necessary.

Becoming the Teacher Makes you a Better Student!

It is widely accepted within psychological literature that assuming the role of the teacher, helps you understand the material that you are delivering, more so than your level of understanding had you not assumed the role of the teacher (according to the BPS).

Therefore, having to re-hash the basics of lab report writing to multiple students has in turn improved my own understanding of the matter. Most notably, the importance of avoiding sounding overly wordy, and ensuring that when producing written reports, the clarity and readability of the information presented is top priority, over and above trying to impress and confuse the reader with expert jargon.

What Now?

At the time of publishing this blog I still have 21 papers left to mark before the end of January.

I know from reading Northumbria’s own Merim Bilalic’s book on the neuroscience of expertise, that becoming an expert within any field, will consist of performing the same thought and movement patterns over and over again.

Therefore, whilst the majority of my MRes experience thus far has involved a host of new experiences and the development of new skills, I feel that in this instance it is important to appreciate that taking things back to basics and relentlessly reinforcing the foundations of research and lab report writing, is what will inevitably transform me into the competent and expert-esc researcher I am destined to be.


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