Most courses require their class teachers to provide a report on each student’s progress at the end of Michaelmas and Lent Term. For students, these reports are an opportunity to obtain both feedback on the past term as well as guidance for either the next term or their summative assessment (for example, clear pointers as to how to improve and develop their work).
Class reports also play an important role in enabling the School to have an overview of a student’s academic progress, and can thus be available to other people in the School. Chief amongst these are Academic Mentors, but, depending on each student’s situation, there may also be several other people who will need to see them. Reports are used in three main contexts:
Students are expected to meet with their Academic Mentors throughout their academic career at the LSE. For these meetings, it is important for Mentors to have an understanding of a student’s general level of work and to also be aware of any serious study problems a student may be facing.
Academic Mentors and Department Tutors are often asked to provide references for students. To do this they will often rely on the insight provided by class teachers in their reports.
The Committee on Student Progress will decide how the School responds to a student with a failing mark on a course. To understand such results, the Committee needs clear and accurate information on a student’s attendance and general engagement with the course and its work.
Writing class reports
When writing reports for your students:
Be clear, be consistent, and be constructive.
Be positive, but do not ignore academic problems.
Do not record sensitive or confidential information.
In thinking about what to write for these reports, it may help you to consider the following questions:
How well-prepared is the student for classes? (Eg. Do they: complete the weekly assignments/undertake core reading/contribute to class discussions?)
How has the student progressed over the course so far: are they improving or do they face increasing problems?
Providing accurate answers to these questions can help all those who use these class reports, and not just the students.
Class grades for General Course students
In addition to providing feedback on coursework and on general progress, you may have to provide separate class grade for General Course students in your class.
Towards the end of the Michaelmas Term, you will receive an email from Registry with a list of General Course students in your classes. You will also be directed to guidance notes on how to formulate the class grade and how to input this via LSE for You. You will need to submit half unit Michaelmas Term grades by Week 4 of Lent Term and all remaining grades by the end of Week 2 of Summer Term. The class grade is meant to be an overall assessment of the work the General Course student has done in the class over the course of the year. There is no fixed algorithm for this but it needs to take into account their attendance, their overall level of participation, any presentations they may have given, and the problem sets and/or essays they have completed. Given the steep learning curve that General Course students go through in adjusting to LSE and the UK higher education system, you may want to weight your assessment towards the latter half of the course.
This class grade will form part of the LSE transcript the student receives at the end of their year at LSE. It is important that the class grade be a fair and accurate assessment of the student’s overall performance. It is not meant to be your prediction of how they will perform on the exam. Nor should you mark General Course students harshly as a way of incentivising them to perform well on the exam. The table below shows the standard LSE classifications, how these map on to standard percentage grades and the equivalent letter grades for use with General Course students.
The reason this is important is because the class grade, along with the grade they receive for the end of year exam, will play an important role in determining whether the General Course student receives credit for the course at their home institution. In some cases, the class grade and exam grade may be averaged and factored into the student’s GPA at their home university. If you have any queries about grading General Course students please contact the General Course administrative team.
A note on data protection
It is always worth bearing in mind that under the Data Protection Act any individual is entitled to see anything written about them including job references, reports or exam feedback. When writing feedback, references or reports, be frank but fair even when a student has been difficult to work with. Ensure that what you write is what you would be prepared to say to them face-to-face with evidence to back it up. Refer to the School’s Data Protection Policy for more information.
Brown,G, Bull, J and Pendlebury, M (1997), Assessing student learning in higher education, Routledge, London, pp317, in particular Chapter 5, “Assessing Essays”. LB2367.G7 B87
Campbell, A, and Norton, L (2007) Learning, Teaching and Assessing in Higher Education: Developing Reflective Practice, Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd, pp 176. LB2331 L43[MB16]
Revision Questions: What would you do if …?
Consider the questions and make notes about how you might approach these scenarios should they arise in your class. Feel free to share your thoughts with a more experienced colleague from your department or the LSE Eden Centre.