Pen’s TL Blog

Journey to the Centre of Teacher Librarianship

Receipt of Unexpectedly Poor Marks Process (RUPMaP) May 22, 2009

Filed under: ISPs,Ramblings — penszen @ 9:39 pm

I think Kuhlthau needs to extend her information search process to include the dreadful aftermath when a learner gets an unexpectedly dud mark. This is how Kuhlthau starts it off:

A learner moves through uncertainty, optimism and confusion towards clarity as she seeks relevant information and formulates her focus. After collecting the information she needs with growing confidence, and writing and rewriting her paper until she reaches a level of satisfaction with it, she awaits her results. The assessment phase should bring with it a sense of accomplishment, but this assumes a successful outcome.

When her mark arrives, and it’s pathetic, those weeks of hard work loom large in the learner’s mind and the disappointment and shame merge with anger and resentment. That’s when she moves through the RUPMaP.

There’s globalising, feeling that her very identity is under attack: “I am a damn good [insert profession here], what do they know about me.”

There’s rebellion: “I’m gonna hand in the next assignment and I don’t care if it’s any good. I’ll show them.”

There’s the fight response: “This marker isn’t fair. I did an okay job. I want a re-mark.”

And the flight response: “It’s no good. I obviously can’t do it. There’s no point going on with it. I quit.”

There may even be acceptance: “Well, there are obviously extremely high standards, and I didn’t quite do it right.”

The learner may move through some or all of these stages, and revisit them throughout the process of coming to terms with the dud mark and making decisions about the future.

The process resolves in one of three ways:

  • Pursuit of a re-mark, which leads either to satisfaction or further frustration and disappointment.
  • Acceptance, after which the learner carries on with the course of study.
  • Abandonment of the course, leading to both relief and disappointment.

An understanding of the RUPMaP can provide comfort and clarity to a learner in distress. Allowing the learner to move through stages of the RUPMaP is essential. Blocking the emotional responses that emerge after the shock of an unexpectedly poor mark can be detrimental to the learner’s health. A few drinks can also help, as well as watching some mindless TV.

Good luck to anyone coping with the receipt of unexpectedly poor marks.


10 Responses to “Receipt of Unexpectedly Poor Marks Process (RUPMaP)”

  1. Fiona Says:

    Penny, how on earth did you get a substandard mark?? Look at that critical mind go! Saturday morning and I’m up at the crack of dawn to work on these assignments, full of self doubt, when I stumble on your post.
    Hilarious! Has given me the much needed boost, I reckon there’s a published journal entry in that post. Now, just let me check with Roy how I am going to reference it. You never know in these tough times!
    Good luck with Assignment 2! We will get through it!

    • penszen Says:

      Thank you Fiona! What lovely feedback, and indeed just the boost that I need too.
      I realise I left a stage out: the one where you make light of the whole situation and spend time writing funny stuff on your blog…
      Remember Winston and keep going!

  2. Judi Says:

    thank you Penny for helping us all get some perspective on what we are all feeling. i actually did pass but not a mark I would brag about. I went through all of those feeings and reactions, and still not feeling confident about the future assignments, especially next semester. My big gripe is that even though there is room to provide context (or is there in a mimiscule word limit??), I feel the marker has to take into account the fact that I work in school where not much is happening eg I’ve heard the phrase Quality teaching ONCE!, we have no IT co-ordinator or network manager ( I guess its me), no whole school info literacy policy and students have no prior experience of IL, no scope and sequence for IT skills (the kids folders haven’t been updated since last year). The plus of this is there is lots of rewarding changes I am introducing, everyone is great to work with and appreciative of my initiative. BUT SURELY MY ASSIGNMENT will address things totally differently to a TL in a big high school with all the whiz bang Web 2.0 happening and lots of back up and support in those areas???? I felt some of the critical comments on my assignment showed no understanding of my situation and I didn’t have enough words to go into all that!!!
    Has anyone else felt that this is a relevant point???
    Judi (plodding on)

    • penszen Says:

      Hi Judi,
      I agree, it’s very hard to address everything in the word limit. I was frustrated too about the context thing. I am not in a school at the moment, and even though I did meet up with my old school’s librarian and discuss the relevant issues, my assigment was necessarily more theoretical, which I was criticised for. Next time I’ll just make stuff up (whoops, there’s that rebellion creeping in…).
      Keep plodding and good luck!

  3. Helen Rowling Says:


    You hit the nail on the head – and it hurts…I was told in no uncertain circumstance that “who really cares?”…”make stuff up”…
    can you believe that at Masters level?

    Not that I did. I told my story truthfully . So when the comment was made “Who’s job is it to (take control)” How were they to realise that my hands are tied as the ICT-men are taking over.
    I also did not have enough words to state my case.

    Today I find the ICT -man is thinking of doing a course at CSU ! and when I gracefully let him know I am also doing it, he said “Why?” and proceeded to show me certificates (1997) where he took ICT sessions at Library Conferences throughout that year! Tell me – What has that got to do with me and my PD? I am still wondering! He asked me all the questions under the sun “When did you start? When are you finishing? Why did you do it?” I was shaking after he left (I did not answer “Because you are not sharing your knowledge and we are in this together!). All the very best – I have moved on from my failed attempt at that last assignment. It amuses me because the 4’s (ETL401) are supposed to be easier that the 5’s! And so far I have failed the 4’s.

  4. Haroula Says:

    I love it! Thanks for sharing this “process” with us. Yes, you do “analyse” well. I really feel for you and others as I read the forums. I just passed but I still went through all the same feelings. They still creep up on me as I’m preparing and working through the next assignment.
    Good luck!

  5. Hi Penny,
    I scored even less than you and must admit I was quite shocked, especially as I too thought I had put my heart and soul into writing the assessment.
    Speaking with the lecturers via email and the idea of a planned phone call in the next few days have helped, though I am trying desperately to ensure I achieve the required marks with Assess 2. Suspect if I worked in a school I might have a more practical understanding of what I am writing about! 🙂

    • penszen Says:

      Good luck Louise! It’s pretty discouraging isn’t it. I’m also hoping my second assignment is okay. I think it is, but then I thought the first one was too, so I don’t have too much faith in my own judgement here! I have made a real effort to answer the question and be more critical and more practical!

  6. Jan Miley Says:

    Great can only do your best, it is just a bit disheartening when you realise what you thought was your best has just got you past the pass mark!…Here’s hoping our best will be better next time! Jan

    • penszen Says:

      My thoughts exactly, Jan. I think I did a good job on Assignment 2, but now I have pretty low expectations, so if I score 55% I’ll be relieved. Anything over 60 and I’ll be thrilled!

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