27 May, 2006

Viva'd out

Last week I finally managed to break the back of all my marking and, most importantly, the viva-ing. I've ended up doing much more than I expected, mainly because I rather foolishly agreed to cover for the single person in the department who is taking this whole lecturer strike seriously, more than doubling my workload at a stroke. The powers that be are paying me extra for this, but at several points in the last week or so I've wondered whether it was really worth the lost weekends and evenings.

The vivas themselves were an interesting experience. I have to confess to feeling a slight discomfort with the whole thing; here I was, passing judgement on the efforts of people I don't feel much older than, with my opinion having equal weight to that of the other, much more experienced marker. I did worry that they might chafe a bit at the situation, but that didn't seem to be a problem. For my part, it was interesting to see how the second markers focussed on different things in the vivas themselves. Some concentrated on narrrow technical issues, others on more general interpretation stuff - there was almost as much variety here as in the how the students coped. On that side of things, there was surpises both pleasant and unpleasant: it was great when they came in well-prepared, and showed a much better understanding than you expected, it was less good when they came in and threw random keywords together in the hope that some glimmer of sense would emerge (in much the same manner that many of them seemed to have written their reports).

As well as all of that, I also had to give a double lecture last Friday, ironically to the same third year who I have been viva-ing. It was also the last lecture of the semester for them (and hence for some, their last lecture ever), so there was a definite 'end of term' atmosphere which probably didn't do much for their attention spans. Still, hopefully I did enough to ensure they ended on a medium.

Anyway, I can't complain about not having anything to do at the moment, that's for sure, and my self-indulgent vanity projects (to wit, this blog) have suffered as a result. Hopefully I'll get back to having some spare time soon.

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