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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 19, 1976.]

How In-Term Assessment was Introduced

How In-Term Assessment was Introduced

The introduction of in-term assessment (I.T.A.) was not imposed or universal but was rather left by the academic powers-that-be up to departments and staff. Because ITA was optional for faculty staff and because of the experimental uncertainty involved, generally little or no student choice or participation was involved. Consequently many students felt that they were simply being appeased by token ITA and presented with a "fiat accomple". This situation was not helped by a blanket regulation imposed by Registry that any finals exam under their administration would require that a student would still have to pass 40% in that exam. The end result of all this was that students found themselves saddled with a wide variety of assessment schemes between and within departments which juggled ITA and finals to arrive at some mixture usually comprising a ratio of percentage of the old and new.

An added complication to the introduction of ITA at Vic was that it was the same year (1972) that changes in the degree structure were introduced, namely the semester term system and the credit system all of which was designed to give greater flexibility in courses, e.g. 6 and 4 credit courses. Although administratively separate issues, these degree structure changes and ITA have tended to overlap in practical effects so that the whole question of ITA at VIC is modified by this.

As early as April 1972, J. Nicholls in "Salient" warned that at least under the old system students could do assignments in a more self-motivated way without preoccupation with external rewards, or punishments... without prejudicing final marks. "He also pointed out "one argument for the system (ITA) advanced in a faculty meeting was that it would keep the customers working all year round instead of just before finals". This echoed the English educationalist, Michael Bassey who had warned that unless students were self-motivated in assessed assignments "we would be replacing torture at the end of the course by three years of regular torture!".