Tutors provide 2nd opinion, just like doctors and insurance agents

In some ways I find private tutors similar to doctors, in the field of academics. I just want to share an example of how a school teacher have marked a student’s answer in an unfair manner. This is not about the matter of marks but it brings disillusion to the student’s learning.

This question was from 2015 ACJC JC 2 Common Test 1 (H2 Mathematics) on the topic of Permutation and Combination. The question I would like to highlight is Q5(ii).



The marker awarded my tuition student 0 marks, and mentioned “cannot use dumping method”. Based on this I assumed that the school teacher thought that this method was completely wrong and hence no marks awarded. However my student’s method is actually acceptable, just that it is incomplete.

The full solution would be to consider 9 cases (my student wrote 6, missed out 3). The remaining 3 cases are

1) 3 tennis, 1 squash

2) 2 tennis, 2 squash

3) 1 tennis, 3 squash.

I would probably award 1 mark, but that’s not the issue. The student thought that her method was completely wrong and was confused as she cannot see where’s the mistake. She was prepared to “forgo” this method and force herself to accept the teacher’s method which she finds it hard to swallow.

Main reason for incorrect marking by the teacher:

The teachers want to finish marking piles of scripts asap, hence whenever they see a wrong answer they may be tempted to just give a “0” instead of thinking about where and why the mistakes are made. Many failed to realise that at JC level students have their own way of thinking and it is our job (teachers or tutors) to fine tune the methods they are comfortable so that the methods are appropriate and correct, rather than rejecting their ideas (unreasonably) and force them to do things they don’t comprehend.

Nevertheless, P&C is probably the hardest topic to mark for me. There are numerous ways to count and solve a problem, a teacher may not know all of them.

P.S: “Dumping Method”, reminds me of toilet or Yummy Dumpling.

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