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Monday, June 20, 2005

hollow feeling

It's that time of year when the marks are calculated and handed out to the students. Of course we also hand out preliminary degree classifications.

One of our 2nd year students plagiarised a piece of coursework this year; he was caught. Not only was he caught but he also submitted it over a week left which is an automatic zero as well. I was the plagiarism officer and had to deal with the problem. He put his hands up and admitted it and my impression was that he realised his coursework assignment was overdue and panicked: he cribbed great tracts from the web and submitted it in the hope that no one would notice.

Overall he is a nice guy and has worked hard on the courses I taught; but if you cheat and you get caught you have to deal with the consequences. One unforeseen consequence is that he has now failed that course. It appears that 80% of the course was based upon that piece of coursework - to me that is ridiculous but if that is that way it is, so be it. Normally we would offer a resit and he could then go through with at least a pass mark on his transcript, but because he plagiarised, no resit can be offered. Therefore he has failed that course - comprehensively. He can still go through, but he will always have that fail marked down on his transcript. The stupid thing is that if he had just failed to hand in his coursework he would have been offered a resit to get him up to a pass mark. His plagiarism has cost him a unit and will always be in plain sight of any employer who asks to see his transcript. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth though I console myself that it is all his own fault, though its hard to be the one who doles out the punishment...

In addition one of our students dropped from a 1st class degree to a 2:1 today. We had calculated his mark incorrectly - the degree course he was on did not have the allowances that the 'normal' course does. As a consequence he got bumped down even though many of his marks were first class. Why the bump in that case? On one morning a couple of months ago his mind closed up in an exam; he got 12% instead of his usual 60-80%. That was enough to pull his mark down to a 2:1. I'm gutted for him (though not much because its still a very good degree classification).


Shinobi said...

Your grading system makes my brain hurt.

Shinobi said...
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Kav said...

it's simple:
You get a degree, this is split into different clssifications:

>40% pass
>50% third class honours
>55% lower second class honours (2:2)
>60% upper second class honours (2:1)
>70% first class honours

Each course you do is worth 1/4 unit. These are combined together to form 1/2 units. There are 12 of these by the end of the 3rd year. These are then averaged to give your overall percentage which defines your degree classification. Now, there is some leeway for moving up a classification: if you have 8 out of 16 1/2 units above a class level plus your average mark is within 2% of the boundary then you get moved up. There is a slight change for moving from 2:1 to 1st for those on the BSc. It is a bit easier: 6 of 16 in 1st class and the average of the top 14 1/2 units is a 1st. It was this second category that it was originally thought that the student qualified for. However he was in the BEng course.

David said...

Now brain hurts, and I've been through the system!

Kav said...

I have no idea if this is similar to systems that other universities have.