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1:50pm on Sunday, 31st May, 2015:



It's the time of year when the Student Assessment of Courses comes out. This is where the students get to grade their lecturers anonymously. My modules, CE217 and CE317, came 10th and 14th respectively (out of 50 undergraduate modules). The other two games modules came 3rd and 4th.

These assessments are quite frustrating. Fewer than half the students fill in the forms, and they do so at revision lectures. The students who show up at revision lectures are not the ones who attend regular lectures. I hadn't seen some of the 14 (of 33) CE217 students who rated me in any of the regular lectures, and I couldn't have identified them in a line-up as being my students. Some of the 8 (of 21) students who rated me for CE317 were the ones who had found the course so hard that they felt the need to come to the revision lecture, whereas many of the ones who had found it easier (and who might therefore have scored it higher) didn't bother showing up.

The assessment has 12 gradings overall. These are marked on a Likert scale (from "strongly disagree"=1 to "strongly agree"=5), with an additional "not applicable" that is removed from calculations. One of the things the students had to grade was "Assessed work was marked and returned within 4 weeks". For CE217, the assessment had only just been handed in and was in the process of being marked, so the students should have responded "not applicable"; only 4 of them did so, though, with the rest going for "neither agree or disagree"=3 or "agree"=4. This lowered my overall average mark for the module (which was 4.30/5). Another grading was "Feeding on my work was useful"., for which a more reasonable 8 students said it wasn't applicable but the other 6 returned an average of 3.33.

I'm not the only person affected by this kind of thing, of course. There's a temptation to say that it all evens out in the end, but I don't believe it does. When "Overall, I believe that the module was excellent" has the same weighting as "I understood the marking criteria in advance of undertaking my assessment", it's possible to game it.


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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).