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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, No. 1, March 1, 1976

Expose the Abuses

Expose the Abuses

How are you being assessed in your work?

  • by internal grading of essays and other work, along with, of course, that inevitable 40% examination requirement at vuw?
  • or by end of year/course examination?

Examinations (meaning graded assessment in either form) are at the moment a fact of university life, and yet for decades studies on the subject have showed that examination marking is a highly unreliable process.

In single essay papers on mathematical topics William in 1933 found that qualified markers gave marks ranging from 16 to 96 and 26 to 92 for the same papers. Such disgusting ranges are direct evidence that factors other than cognitive achievement are being measured.

Similarly, in a study on the marking of dentistry, examiners agreed to pass 3 and fail 12 but could not agree on 7. It was concluded that in such cases the decision of passing or failing is controlled by subjective elements having no bearing on the students learning ability at all......

Kandel in 1936 concluded that handwriting ability at least was being assessed, and that examiners tended to give a greater number of extreme grades after marking a large number of scripts. Exam marks coincide also with the state of the examiner's liver, and other factors personally relevant to him.

For more detailed reading of abuses within the present system refer to Handbook article page 52 and the Assessment booklet published by NZUSA available in the Studass Office.

O.K.! But what are you going to do about it? Strip naked and dance around the examination room in order to expose the system? Wield an axe at both exam paper and desk? or maybe you'd like to take on the examiner him/herself? It is unhappily a fact, that such individual acts, though perhaps courageous - or mad - are unlikely to expose the viciousness of the system - believe me, they've been tried!

Wherefore Art Thou Solution?

The NZUSA Education workshop held mid February, though lacking at times any real direction, did manage to produce some definite policy on the subject. House of talking round the subject, reminiscing and commiserating lead on thankfully after a typical Vic House luncheon to some line of action to which all University Representatives agreed:-

Suggested Programme of Action

1.Each education officer should establish a committee of each students association to organise action on assessment. If possible this committee should be representative of faculties and include student reps on relevant university committees.
2.The first job of the committee should be to carry out an investigation into methods of assessment in each faculty and particular student grievances.
3.After this investigation has been carried out it should be possible to identify common grievances across faculties, e.g. the 40% final examination requirement at VUW.
4.The committee should then organise large meetings of students to debate the issues with senior staff. The purpose of the meetings is to educate people and to attempt to arrive at a consensus of student opinion on necessary reform.
5.Criticisms and suggested reforms should then be taken back to individual classes for further discussion with other students and with staff.
6.After the widest possible debate a programme of reforms should be put to the students association for amendment or adoption and should be taken up with the administration. It is important that any action to get the administration to adopt reforms should be combined with large debates to avoid student reps becoming divorced from the students.

Drawing of a mouse with a screw through it

Assessment has been forced upon you! What say have you had in the past?

If you're not willing to accept the abuses that have noted, we want you on the Education Committee. Bring your grievances along to S.R.C. help us to get the university to listen.

Remember! Students of VUW Unite You have nothing to lose but your grades!