Discrimination & Bias in Assessment
in Tertiary Education
Please note that names of Students and Lecturers have been removed, and that the analysis published below was undertaken by a fully qualified and experienced assessor among else also holding a ‘MEdAdmin’, ‘Certificate 4 in Assessment’ and an IL Auditor ISO QMS & AQTF for RTO’s.
The University concerned did receive these details but denied existence of any problems.
Please note that Tertiary Education is about the only service which does not provide for valid and transparent quality control for the consumer despite it belongs among the most important and most expensive services.
The quality control is in the lecturers’ assessment feedback provided to students – which ought to primarily act as a vehicle assisting the students’ learning, rather than just as a report on the students’ acquisition of knowledge. The current quality of the lecturers’ assessment feedback in context “next time do better” or “dazzle me more” does nothing for the students learning and only transforms Tertiary Education into yet another unethical money-making machinery.
2010 Lecturer’s assessment feedback on work of an anonymous Student reveals that under-performing however preferential students are being radically marked up while the marks of good however non-preferential students are being significantly reduced.
The anonymous 2010 Lecturer’s assessment feedback reads (direct quote):
“… the commentary must be “in response” to one of the quotes (a) – (c). Which one is it … did I miss something. If I did you failed to communicate if I did not you failed to answer the question notwithstanding your essay has real value & shows admirable perspective. So this work is unfortunately flawed: the brief missing the key lawfulness/directness dichotomy, or at least fails to treat it anywhere near adequately. While the commentary of least one … [unreadable] fails to answer the question & a tight marker would be considering marking you only for the brief i.e. out of 50% … i.e. you’d fail. I don’t think this would be deserved but you must in future very carefully consider your answer: have I really answered the question I was asked. Just like a real lawyer.”
This student earned, for this assessment task, a miraculous Distinction (DN) with 80/100.
This work was marked better than the work of another student (from the same year, class and under the same Lecturer) who received just Credit (CR) – however the Lecturer’s Feedback was nowhere near as harsh.
Only a year later, an assessment feedback from another Lecturer (dated 2011), again, comparatively compared to another student’s work (generously provided by anonymous student from identical class) revealed similar as above, in effect confirming that the work of non-preferential students is purposely made replete with irrelevant and useless feedback comments (some bordering with ridiculous, such as (quoting): “but in the future will the Vic gov alter the law?“, or “and I guess the AG could amend the law?“) clearly aiming to create an appearance of flood of errors which in reality were really no more but irrelevant personal comments of a lecturer attempting to engage in a ‘off the topic’ conversation. In addition, the focus appeared to be on English language rather than understanding of law and relevant concepts (i.e. on the published assignment requirements), with NO feedback comments provided what so ever on the actual assignment requirements – resulting in clear evidence of Discrimination.
Re-assessment of the work (dated 2011) confirmed that 32-34 % of the mark was lost on English language and writing, specifically: grammar, use of italics & capital letters, lecturer’s preference for un-identified synonyms, preference for shorter and simple sentences. Feedback was replete with useless and uninformative feedback comments (quoting): “OK, good work – but be more precise in your choice of words” – without any indication as to the words that would be better suited to achieve higher writing precision or better reading experience, or “OK – quite a good image, but this is only in hindsight, at the time nobody thought that this could lead to a general duty of care“. Please note that these critical comments were referring to a student’s retrospective (i.e. 2011) analysis of a 18-th century case-law. This Feedback had no comments on satisfaction of any of the key requirements of the assignment – which means by implication that they were all satisfied.
This assignment earned meager 66/100 and after the re-assessment 68/100 – i.e. just CR, while the work of the anonymous student earned 80/100, i.e. DN, despite the Lecturer’s feedback identified that one assignment criterion was not satisfied while failing to detect that about another 9 out of the total 23 key assignment requirements were also not addressed. This highly rated DN assignment failed to undertake critical analysis and review of the case and instead opted for safe reproduction of statements from the case without even an attempt to explain the statement’s meanings – consequently failing to demonstrate an ability to identify and understand the key legal issues and principles of the case.
This is a serious problem because of the Institution’s declared comparative assessment, grade scaling and marking ‘to the curve’ policies.
This profound assessment inconsistency may be considered as Discrimination also because the Institution happily collects money from International and English Second Language (ESL) students (representing majority of the student cohort) for their admission into a Law Program which is well-known to be language demanding and then uses their language barrier as an excuse for marking them down i.e. to discriminate against the ESL students – predominantly on the grounds of imperfect English. This clearly appears to be a case of indirect discrimination aimed at ESL students – and considering that this is being perpetrated by the Law School, alarm bells should be ringing loud.
As partial acknowledgement that there is a serious problem with assessment and student feedback serves Shirley Scott’s ‘Improving Student Satisfaction with Feedback: Report on a Project Undertaken in the Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences and of Law at UNSW’ from November 2008.
Main and ongoing problem with assessment at tertiary level is its validity, reliability and verifiability:
- Assessment feedback as provided to students is too vague, uninformative (as to opportunities for further improvement) and unable to verify or justify the marks awarded.
- Generic marking criteria as provided in the Course Outline are uninformative of the relative weights assigned to individual assignment tasks and even those are NOT assessed consistently between students within the same class.
- Specific weighting scheme/marking criteria/grading policy relevant to individual assignments are NOT released with them – with the aim that students stay uninformed about the main focus of the assessment – allowing Lecturers to assess ad hoc, as they see fit, ignoring the Assessment Equity Policy (if there is one).
- Consequently, the assessment is regularly inconsistent and inequitable.
- Any reviews requested by the students end up in the whitewash disclaiming that because the formal procedural assessment requirements and the review requirements (despite they are invalid due to their intentional aim to prevent transparency and to protect the establishment from liabilities) were satisfied – everything is absolutely fine.
- In the milieu of assessment secrecy, absence of transparency, refusal to release marking criteria and weighting schemes (directly relevant to individual assignment) with the assignment tasks and the institutional habit of ill-defined grade scaling and marking ‘to the curve’ (however without any indication where and how much of marks were lost – hence without adequate informative feedback), and more importantly, in an absence of valid processes enabling students to accurately verify the quality and equity in assessment (i.e. validity and reliability of assessment) – will necessarily result in strong and justified suspicions of inconsistency and incongruence in assessment among students – under which condition the institution can NOT possibly justify nor legally defend its practice of marking ‘to the curve’.
Considering the expense associated with tertiary education – student should research carefully the prospective Universities they may wish to spend their money in.
UNSW Assessment Scandal finally in Headlines
“MyMaster essay cheating scandal: More than 70 university students face suspension”
March 19, 2015
“All universities, except UNSW, listed expulsion as the maximum possible penalty for students found to have breached academic protocol in their dealings with MyMaster. At UNSW, the maximum penalty is 18 months’ suspension from the university. All universities contacted by Fairfax Media said no penalties would be imposed until all appeal processes had been exhausted.”
Why is UNSW so Soft on Fraud?
Well, that is easy.
It is because is involved in one itself.
“Students buying assignments online could be charged with fraud”
November 12, 2014
“Yingying Dou: The mastermind behind the University essay writing machine”
- November 12, 2014
UNSW embroiled in
Scam 2013 Photography Competition
With UNSW’s annual income in hundreds of millions of dollars it is unclear why would academia ever wanted to risk embroiling itself in Fraud and Scam.
But, it happens all the time.
The ‘Terms & Conditions‘ of the UNSW 2013 Photography Competition reveal that the predominant purpose of the Photo Competition is the “ownership, copyright & moral rights grab” which is being perpetrated by a rich educational corporation – earning many millions of dollars each year while also enjoying generous private donations, public government grants and sponsorships.
This makes the act in question no doubt a shameful one, at best, and certainly an unethical one clearly unfit for academic institution priding its self on its reputation and integrity.
None observed here – for sure.
The ‘Terms & Conditions‘ are here: UNSW’s & Wilson Security’s Unsafe Parking Practices 20-09-13, check out specifically the following Clauses:
Clause 2.6. The judging panel, comprising two academics and two marketing representatives, will judge the winners of the Competition in its sole discretion.
Clause 5.2. Each entry in the Competition and all copyright and other rights in such entries and/or other materials shall be the property of the UNSW and shall not be returned.
Clause 5.3. By entering the Competition each Participant agrees to grant UNSW an irrevocable, royalty free licence to use the image for UNSW publications including but not limited to undergraduate and postgraduate program guides, the Faculties of Science and Engineering web pages and promotion of the Faculties of Science and Engineering.
Clause 5.4. By submitting an entry into this competition each participant thereby:
Clause 5.4.1. specifically authorises UNSW to use such entry in whole or in part, throughout the universe, in perpetuity in or on any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, and alone or together or as part of other information, content and/or material of any kind or nature.
_____________ Email Inquiry: “moral rights respected?” _____________
Sent: Monday, 23 September 2013 9:10 AM
To: Sarah Terkes
Subject: Photo Competion 2013
Dear Ms Terkes
I think I completely forgot to ask – sorry for the inconvenience:
Will UNSW be happy to acknowledge my work (i.e. “moral rights”) by acknowledging the photo’s author (i.e. “Personal Information Withheld on Request”) each time the photos are used by UNSW?
I would much prefer if the name was always displayed with the photos in any publication(s) and/or other use – would that be OK with UNSW?
Please kindly specifically advice on this issue.
Personal Information Withheld on Request
___ Answer: “the original photographer not even to be acknowledged” ___
Subject: Photo Competion 2013
From: Sarah Terkes [email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, 23 September 2013 12:14 PM
To: Personal Info withheld on request
Hi Personal Info withheld on request
Actually, we would like to be able to use them freely for our own purposes after the competition, which includes the option of not crediting the original photographer. Hope that clears things up for you.
Digital Marketing Coordinator | Faculty of Science | University of New South Wales
P: (02) 9385 8808 | M: 0448 706 128 | W: http://www.science.unsw.edu.au
Bullying at UNSW
The bullies of academia and suicide
- The Daily Telegraph
- July 27, 2012
University of hard knocks
- The Daily Telegraph
- July 19, 2012
Workplace bullying on the rise at UNSW
- March 4, 2012
- Jen Rosenberg
In Public Interest – Report
Illegal & hazardous parking practices regularly committed by Wilson Security employees while undertaking their function of unscrupulous revenue raising giving out parking penalties – possibly resulting in illegitimacy & unenforceability of the penalties
The Wilson Security pride itself on being ISO 9001 certified.
It should however be aware that upon breach of its certification conditions/requirements it may lose its certification.
Among some of the direct benefits that can be achieved by ISO 9001 certification are:
- Improved product and service quality, leading to satisfied customers
- Improved management and operational processes, resulting in less waste (both time and materials), increased productivity, efficiency and cost savings,
and among some of the direct derivative benefits are:
- Enhanced reputation
- Improved customer and supplier relationships
- Improved employee morale
No doubt the ISO 9001 certification logo has high aesthetic appeal. However this will not assist Wilson Security or UNSW on its own, unless the certification conditions are actually complied with.
As a result of breach of these conditions UNSW may find itself contributory liable for potential damages caused by the unlawful practices of its Wilson Security contractor.
According to the certification process document, including the “ISO 9000 Introduction and Support Package: Guidance on the Documentation Requirements of ISO 9001:2008” document, the audited body must demonstrate its conformity with ISO 9001 by providing objective evidence for each audit and/or certification purpose (quoting): “… records (including records of incidents, breaches of regulation or legislation and relevant correspondence with Authorities) on which you based your assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements.”
Since it is a wide spread common practice to “massage data” and/or to provide completely false data here is some independently collected evidence about illegal parking of Wilson Security while on job.
Our aim is to achieve fairness of the system in which even authorities and large corporations are held to the same account as any other “little person” is.
This is necessary mainly because these authorities or corporations habitually create their wealth via construction of conditions which are impossible to be complied with, which is then followed by enforcement of despotic penalties even against their own employees/clients/customers for the smallest of inadvertent breaches or omissions even if outside their control.