Didn’t Get Marked as Satisfactory the First Time? It’s Not the End of the World.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison.

Sometimes at Fortress Learning, our students get an assessment submission marked as "Not Yet Satisfactory". This can cause disappointment, anxiety, sadness, and even anger!

The reality is, being marked as "Not Yet Satisfactory" is not the end of the world. It just means you get to have another shot at fulfilling the requirements of the task.

I sat down with Diploma Trainer and Managing Director of Fortress Learning, Dr Bryan West, to pick his brain about what it means to be marked as "Not Yet Satisfactory".

Do you find that some students are upset when they are not marked as Satisfactory the first time?

Yes, but I’ll go back. Some students enrol and are upset if you even suggest that there could be a possibility that maybe in even the smallest part of the course they are not competent.

These are the people who have not accepted that perhaps they have more that they could learn. And perhaps the way that they have been doing things already is not necessarily what is in line with what the Units of Competency require.

That may not necessarily mean they’re not performing their roles competently against their position descriptions and so forth, or doing their jobs well. It just means that there’s not an alignment with what the Units of Competency require.

That’s an understanding that is difficult for some people to grasp.

Do you think this has anything to do with the ‘final’ nature of marking in the university system?

Many of our students, and many of the people who are coming into the TAE world, would have succeeded at university if they went there.

But yes, it’s a relic of schools and other forms of education where they are not criterion based. So in a competency based or criterion based environment, really it’s all or nothing.

It’s not about if you get 50%, then you pass.

It’s about: this is what the Unit of Competency requires, and it’s a unit. Unit means one; a whole. And you need to demonstrate competency against the whole thing.

If you demonstrate competency in almost all of it, then that doesn’t mean you’re not competent. If you demonstrate extraordinarily, over the top levels of capability in some parts of a unit, but there is still a tiny little gap elsewhere, you’re not competent in the unit.

It doesn’t matter how good you are in certain parts of the unit, you need to be good to a required standard in all parts of the unit in order to be competent.

People don’t necessarily understand that. Well, they don’t accept it because it doesn’t feel good. Because they are being judged on the little things that perhaps they don’t do or don’t know, rather than being applauded for the many great things that they do do very well and that they know very well.

What would you say to someone if you were sitting right next to them when they receive notification that their submission has been marked “Not Yet Satisfactory”?

Reserve your judgement. Read the feedback. And tell yourself first of all, I’ve got three things to do here:

First, I need to identify why it is not yet satisfactory.

Second, I need to identify how I then make it satisfactory. And then,

Third, I need to identify how I am going to go about doing that and making that happen.

I would say, it’s not the end of the world.

It’s not the end of the world until an actual final assessment decision has been made. If you get something that comes back and it’s Not Yet Satisfactory, then that simply means that we are in the process of conducting the assessment. In that situation, there is an opportunity to reassess, and so you’re being provided with feedback which enables you to modify what you’ve done.

Quite often, that could be as simple as a part of a question was missed. Maybe a question had two parts and you completed just one. Or maybe there was a whole chunk that was done incorrectly.

Whatever it is, it’s an opportunity for that to be remedied before the final assessment decision is made. So really what Not Yet Satisfactory means is we are saying to the person, ‘As it is now, this would not meet the requirements… But, we’re not at the point yet where we need to make a decision. So you’ve got another chance.’

Final thoughts…

In the world of the TAE, we’re dealing with education. But, against that, we’ve got a large cultural shift towards focusing on the positives all the time.

Unfortunately, the reality is that we are not always good enough. Our students are not always good enough; what they do is not always going to be good enough.

Being aware that not being good enough is a very real possibility is important because that generally brings with it a more humble approach to the learning process, where the person is going to be more open to actually learning than if they came into it thinking, ‘Well I’m definitely going to pass, I am definitely going to succeed.’

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