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Open University accused of using computer to mark crucial dissertations

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Published Time: 11.05.2024 - 14:40:58 Modified Time: 11.05.2024 - 14:40:58

Former student claims work is not being assessed individually The Open University has been accused of using a computer algorithm to mark dissertations, The Telegraph can disclose

Former student claims work is not being assessed individually

The Open University has been accused of using a computer algorithm to mark dissertations, The Telegraph can disclose.

A former student who obtained marking transcripts for their MBA dissertation last year has claimed that the university was not assessing students’ work individually.

Instead, the student has alleged that the university was using a computer model to determine final marks, causing concerns about the possibility of incorrect degree classifications.

Information obtained using a subject access request under data protection laws shows evidence that a “third marker” who puts forward a final dissertation mark to a review panel repeatedly took an average of the results of a first and second marker. The third marker’s comments in multiple instances were simply an amalgamation of comments cut and pasted from the first and second markers.

In dozens of instances where dissertations were marked last year, the third marker had the power to significantly impact the final mark because there was a large disparity between the first and second markers’ conclusions, research suggests.

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Of the 266 students taking the module, 76 had either “large differences” recorded between the first and second markers’ conclusions, or were on the boundary between a “pass” or a “fail”. This meant they were eligible for third-marking, according to internal records obtained by the student.

Using freedom of information laws, the student, who wishes to remain anonymous, found that in one instance, a panel meeting where academics assess student marking before recommending the marks to an assessment board lasted two hours one minute and was conducted remotely. The timing was the equivalent of 30 seconds for each of the 266 students on the MBA course who completed the module, or 90 seconds for each of the 76 students where it had been deemed necessary to send their dissertations off for third marking.

Same old problem

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