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    I am curious as to people's experiences and views on this topic. Many exams in the UK are marked by a 2nd examiner and marked/reviewed by an external examiner.

    In the case of 2nd marking, most times the 2nd marking is NOT blind, as the 2nd examiner has access to the marks and comments provided by the 1st examiner. As such, I argue, the 2nd examiner is biased by this knowledge and on many occasions probably without even a full read of the script, merely agrees with the first examiner; providing a mark approximately equal to the 1st examiner's marks i.e. rubber stamping the first examiner's marks.

    I also feel that the external examiner in similar fashion follow the lead of the 1st and 2nd examiner. In sum the 1st examiner is VERY powerful and can despite the appearance of moderation by one or two other parties dictate the ultimate final mark.

    The only solution to this is true blind marking where the 2nd examiner and the external examiner DO not see the 1st examiner's marks or comments.
    What are others experiences and thoughts on this issue?

    Thanks.
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    Both my BA & MPhil theses (at different universities) were marked by two examiners, who didn't have access to one another's comments or marks until after they had marked and commented upon it themselves. In fact my BA supervisor didn't know who the other marker was, or so he claims, as the marks they both submitted were in agreement and so there was no need for them to conference on it. At MPhil level, my supervisor didn't mark my thesis and I had two examiners who marked simultaneously, and then came together afterwards to make sure they agreed, which thankfully for me they did.

    The external examiner's role in both cases was to make sure that marking was consistent across everyone who graded theses, and that the quality of the work and the marks awarded were consistent with standards seen at other universities: that is what their stated role in our BA handbook was, for instance. Other than that, my understanding is that the external examiner is primarily there to try & reconcile any widely divergent marks between the two original examiners. During my MPhil, a student received 2 different marks for their thesis, with the lower one meaning they wouldn't have progressed to the PhD; with so much at stake, the external was asked to assess the work and give her opinion, and so she marked the thesis with the knowledge that there was a difference of opinion between the examiners.

    At both my universities, we were required to submit two copies of dissertations, in order for examiners to be able to correct simultaneously.
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    Thanks for responding to my thread.

    A simultaneous marking process is "true-blind". With such a framework, there should be no doubts about the thoroughness of the process.

    At my university, the 2nd examiner marks AFTER the first examiner and sees the comments and marks of the 1st examiner. This undoubtedly introduces bias into the process. Indeed, I asked and a professor told me, that when he is n the role of 2nd examiner, that he first looks at the marks of the first examiner BEFORE he starts to mark. As such, he is influenced. If that bias translates into a virtually equivalent mark to that of the 1st examiner; then the external examiner really has nothing to do, as there is no disagreement between the two internal examiners. In summary, the 2nd examiner rubberstamps the first examiners work, and the external examiners rubberstamps both examiners. This reality in effect negates the entire purpose of two internal examiners and external examiner.


    (Original post by gutenberg)
    Both my BA & MPhil theses (at different universities) were marked by two examiners, who didn't have access to one another's comments or marks until after they had marked and commented upon it themselves. In fact my BA supervisor didn't know who the other marker was, or so he claims, as the marks they both submitted were in agreement and so there was no need for them to conference on it. At MPhil level, my supervisor didn't mark my thesis and I had two examiners who marked simultaneously, and then came together afterwards to make sure they agreed, which thankfully for me they did.

    The external examiner's role in both cases was to make sure that marking was consistent across everyone who graded theses, and that the quality of the work and the marks awarded were consistent with standards seen at other universities: that is what their stated role in our BA handbook was, for instance. Other than that, my understanding is that the external examiner is primarily there to try & reconcile any widely divergent marks between the two original examiners. During my MPhil, a student received 2 different marks for their thesis, with the lower one meaning they wouldn't have progressed to the PhD; with so much at stake, the external was asked to assess the work and give her opinion, and so she marked the thesis with the knowledge that there was a difference of opinion between the examiners.

    At both my universities, we were required to submit two copies of dissertations, in order for examiners to be able to correct simultaneously.
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    Why do you assume that the second person will always agree with the first marker though? They may not. Just because they look at the comments before marking it themselves (which some may not do), they will have their own opinion on a piece of work independent from the first examiner - they can think for themselves!

    They will also have their own biases separate from any comments a first examiner made: they may not particularly like a specific methodology or theoretical framework, whereas Examiner 1 did, do you think they'd rubberstamp in a situation like that?
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    No, there is nothing to prevent a clan of academics who have a personal vendetta against you from failing you unfairly.

    (If you assume that they will do all they can to surmount the various moderation processes that are in place to ensure an equitable outcome, despite not being utterly, redundantly double-blind.)

    But this doesn't happen with anything like the regularity students imagine. Academics like passing work. It gives them warm fuzzy feelings.

    It is a massive tedious hassle to fail people.
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    Sure they "like passing work"...except when they don't. We should not naively assume that 100% of cases are perfect or even near perfect.



    (Original post by nonswimmer)
    No, there is nothing to prevent a clan of academics who have a personal vendetta against you from failing you unfairly.

    (If you assume that they will do all they can to surmount the various moderation processes that are in place to ensure an equitable outcome, despite not being utterly, redundantly double-blind.)

    But this doesn't happen with anything like the regularity students imagine. Academics like passing work. It gives them warm fuzzy feelings.

    It is a massive tedious hassle to fail people.
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    (Original post by aeuk)
    Sure they "like passing work"...except when they don't. We should not naively assume that 100% of cases are perfect or even near perfect.
    How about you tell us about your case.
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    I know of cases on my course where there has been a marked difference between the two internal examiners, and the external has sometimes agreed with one, sometimes with the other, and sometimes graded somewhere inbetween. So from my experience of my course at least, neither the second marker nor the external are just rubber stampers. More widely than that, having spoken to a couple of faculty members who are externals for other universities as well as someone in a different faculty who is also an external for another uni, it is taken very seriously and there is sometimes quite deep engagement when the external disagrees significantly with the internal grades.
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    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    In your school/course, is it true "double-blind" marking?


    (Original post by sj27)
    I know of cases on my course where there has been a marked difference between the two internal examiners, and the external has sometimes agreed with one, sometimes with the other, and sometimes graded somewhere inbetween. So from my experience of my course at least, neither the second marker nor the external are just rubber stampers. More widely than that, having spoken to a couple of faculty members who are externals for other universities as well as someone in a different faculty who is also an external for another uni, it is taken very seriously and there is sometimes quite deep engagement when the external disagrees significantly with the internal grades.
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    (Original post by aeuk)
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    In your school/course, is it true "double-blind" marking?
    As far as I know. I can confirm tomorrow, but I seem to recall being told that examiners record the grades on a sheet separate to the script they are grading.
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    Please do let us know when you confirm tomorrow.

    Thank you.

    (Original post by sj27)
    As far as I know. I can confirm tomorrow, but I seem to recall being told that examiners record the grades on a sheet separate to the script they are grading.
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    Anyone else care to share on this issue?
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    Why is it a hassle to fail people?
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    (Original post by laurakate1988)
    Why is it a hassle to fail people?
    Because a really bad mark at an important stage of a degree (say, a dissertation) will automatically trigger moderation of that particular piece of work, discussion at examination board (where marks are formally agreed and set in stone), etc. So the first marker needs to have a good reason to be failing the work and to make absolutely sure that they have made a fair assessment of the work.

    In addition, it's just not a pleasant thing to do. You will often be marking the work of someone who you've formed a bond with through seminars and supervisions, who you know has tried hard, yet has still missed the standard required. A really bad fail of a serious piece of work might mean they have to resit a year. It's not nice to be the apparent cause of bad news in those circumstances.

    I love marking good work, I hate marking bad work, and I think anyone in a role which involves assessment will agree. It is neither easier nor pleasurable to fail people.
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    (Original post by nonswimmer)
    Because a really bad mark at an important stage of a degree (say, a dissertation) will automatically trigger moderation of that particular piece of work, discussion at examination board (where marks are formally agreed and set in stone), etc. So the first marker needs to have a good reason to be failing the work and to make absolutely sure that they have made a fair assessment of the work.

    In addition, it's just not a pleasant thing to do. You will often be marking the work of someone who you've formed a bond with through seminars and supervisions, who you know has tried hard, yet has still missed the standard required. A really bad fail of a serious piece of work might mean they have to resit a year. It's not nice to be the apparent cause of bad news in those circumstances.

    I love marking good work, I hate marking bad work, and I think anyone in a role which involves assessment will agree. It is neither easier nor pleasurable to fail people.
    I completely agree. I do a great deal of marking and I take it extremely seriously. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction marking good work, and while I find sub-standard work frustrating to mark I always feel horrible assigning it a bad or failing grade. In my department all such grades are automatically reviewed, and in my experience the second and external reviewer/examiner process serves an important role in ensuring fairness across the board of what is almost by definition with many arts, humanities and social science subjects, a subjective decision. I have had some of my marks increased on review, some decreased, and the majority "rubber stamped" as the oP might put it. But I take a great deal of care over my marking and if I have valid reasons for giving the marks that I do then I don't consider the second examiner to be "rubber stamping" anything, but rather agreeing with the reasons I gave in the first place and recognising that sometimes bad work is just bad work and should be graded as such.
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    Any updates on this issue
 
 
 
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