Diary Of A Third Year: 'Yo-yo marking is an everyday hazard of life'
Thursday 29 April 2010
People go to university to get a degree, not just any degree but a "good" degree. A "good" degree is a 2.1 or higher. A 2.1 will enable you to apply for a job without having your CV immediately thrown in the bin. It's the bare minimum for most graduate jobs. A 2.2 looks sloppy, while a third-class degree means you're either pathologically lazy, very unlucky or rather thick – none of which appeals to employers. Simply having a degree is no longer enough. Degree classifications thus matter more than ever. Despite this, students often don't know or don't trust the way that their degrees are classified.
Three French students at Sheffield decided to test how consistent the marking was. They sent off three almost identical translations for marking and three different grades were returned. The highest got 76 per cent (a strong first), while the lowest got 53 per cent (a low 2.2). The other received 60 per cent (a 2.1). Although it was hardly a scientific study, it confirmed the fears of non-scientists.
Practically every arts student has submitted an essay that they felt got an undeserved grade. Recently, I handed in an essay that I modestly thought was a work of staggering genius, which received a 2.1. The next one, which I thought was 3,000 words of gibberish, got a first. Yo-yo marking is an everyday hazard for those who are studying essay-based subjects.
The nature of these subjects means that marking is subjective. Each department has its hawks and doves when it comes to marking. One lecturer told me that the disagreements stemmed not from how high to go with the good ones, but how much of a kicking they could give the bad ones. A collective groan went up in one of my classes when it emerged that a particular professor with a penchant for miserly marking would be moderating our dissertations.
Small variances in marking can make a big difference. Last year 48 per cent of undergraduates got a 2.1. An upper-second has stopped being a mark of intelligence and has instead become a mark of adequacy. A first is one of the few ways to make your CV stand out. But a single dodgy mark can torpedo your chance of getting one, leaving you on the 2.1 heap with nearly half of all other graduates.
This academic logjam creates a problem for students and employers. There is a big difference between someone who gets 69.4 per cent and just misses out on a First and someone who scrapes into the class with 60.1 per cent. The upper-second classification is easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Good students who fall short and bad students who fluke their way in are lumped together into one classification, as both have 2.1 written on their CV.
For those worried about grade inflation, getting a first is still reassuringly tricky. But the main battle is to understand how they are awarded. I asked a professor to explain the methodology andhe admitted that he was probably one of only a few faculty members who knew exactly – but he couldn't really explain it to me. If my professors are unsure of what constitutes a first, how am I supposed to get one? Then again, if I'm this confused by a weighted average, I probably don't deserve one.
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...
£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...