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Queen Mary Academy

Critical essay writing assessment

Students sitting at a counter in the Graduate Centre
Maria Grazi Turri profile picture

Dr Maria Grazia Turri

Senior Lecturer in Creative Arts and Mental Health

Students have to identify a research question on which to conduct research and critically analyse the topic in the form of an essay. We believe there is value in personal experiences, therefore, students are encouraged to engage with their experiences and have them reflected in their academic work (keeping in mind any ethical requirements and academic standards). This ensures students stay in touch with their work throughout the semester.

Students are assessed on:

  • The use of sources appropriate to the research question (i.e relevant primary and secondary sources)

  • Critical engagement with the research material, including the use of productive examples or case studies, and the use of pertinent referencing to support your argument

  • How well the structure of the essay supports the overall claims being made

  • The presentation of the argument(s) in a coherent and persuasive manner

  • Written communication which must be presented in a clear and assertive style using a recognized citation system

  • Gives students the liberty to choose and work on a topic of interest in an area of their expertise

  • Prepares students for advanced research projects like dissertations. Essays can be used progressively towards writing a dissertation

  • Students get an opportunity to contribute knowledge in a sector/field they are passionate about

  • These essays encourage critical thinking

  • Teaches students to be more selective in terms of the topic and sources they consult

  • Puts new knowledge in conversation with other knowledge already produced

  • Encourages students to be inquisitive and ask meaningful questions that contribute to the body of knowledge in their field of interest

  • Students learn how to make arguments that add flesh to their work/research

  • Students who have never produced critical academic essays may struggle with this type of assessment and likely require an extra hand to help them catch up with the rest of the class
  • Assessment relies a lot on writing skills and students who are not articulate may find it difficult to put their thoughts coherently in writing
  • As an institution with a diverse community of students, students whose first language is not English may struggle with critical (English) writing skills

• QMPlus

Students get feedback in the form of text comments on their essay submissions. Ongoing feedback is also provided during seminars in preparation for summative assessments

Can it be used face to face and/or online?

Online and face-to-face


Do you use it summatively or formatively?

Summative assessment

Even with technological resources like Turnitin, submissions can still be compromised. The biggest challenge is that students usually resort to lifting a greater potion of their essays from undergraduate submissions and other sources without proper acknowledgement or referencing.

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