Half of all Open University final assignments cancelled even if they were online

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Anonymous #1
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Grades will supposedly be calculated from previous assignments.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/202...-contact-free/
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claireestelle
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Grades will supposedly be calculated from previous assignments.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/202...-contact-free/
behind a paywall so couldn't read , one of my final ones was cancelled, it was more due to the tutors mostly all being part time and having other jobs and commitments so they knew they wouldn't be able to get them all marked in the time needed.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by claireestelle)
behind a paywall so couldn't read.
Here is the text

Outrage at Open University as exam marks given out are based on former students' results

The university cancelled half of final assignments and calculated grades using a statistical model which students have called a 'disgrace'

Students at the Open University (OU) are outraged at having received grades based on the results of former students after the institution used a statistical model to calculate scores for cancelled assignments.

The institution cancelled half of all final assignments during lockdown – even if they were contact-free.

One student said that classmates had received “sudden” downward adjustments to their marks for “opaque” reasons. She called the situation a “disgrace”.

The OU said it made the statistical adjustment by analysing data from students with comparable scores, who sat the modules the past three times the course has run, and the students’ existing grades.

Students, who have received lower grades than what their previous modules should have averaged, said they will now find it harder to achieve the final degree classifications they had been expecting.

One student received a final grade of 77 per cent, after previous assessments ranged between 84-92 per cent. He said: “It just doesn't make sense to use statistics to grade someone if it’s not their work they're being graded against.”

Dr Liz Marr, pro vice-chancellor of the university, said that where the end-of-module assessment had been cancelled because of coronavirus there had been an “exceptional process” for calculating a score and believes the OU’s approach was the “fairest way” to maintain the value of the establishment’s degrees.

She added: “It minimises the risk of grade inflation and protects the value of qualifications with employers… This approach is a quality assurance measure to ensure achievements in one year are of a comparable standard to previous years.”

Dr Marr said that the university has followed guidance from the regulatory bodies.

One student, who is undertaking a degree for pleasure and who until retirement worked as a senior academic, said: “As an external examiner at another university I can see that the OU has not acted as kindly and supportively in its overall approach to the situation."

Speaking of how his final assignments, which were meant to take place online, were cancelled, he said: “It begs the question as to their motives for doing this. Was it a cost saving exercise or to reduce the work that staff had to do?" The OU responded that staff workload increased as a result of this process and this hasn’t been a cost-saving exercise.

The student also said that it had been hard to contact staff at the university: “I tried to use a chat line this week and it is now no longer available. I have emailed and tried telephoning.”

“It’s my view that, because it rarely has to confront the students personally or vocally, it feels it can hide behind either blanking them or just obfuscating. I complained about the cancelling of the end of year assessments and the responses were woefully inadequate,” he added.

A petition has been set up on 38 degrees by students asking the OU to re-evaluate the grading process and “not use previous students results to overlay an average reduction in overall score.”

In May, The Telegraph reported that half of all Open University final assignments were cancelled even if they were contact-free. Students were offered the option to end the course with a grade calculated on previous assignments or to submit work in a year’s time. The OU did not provide students with the option to opt in or out of their final assignments, and said the decision had been made to “ease the burden” on students.

Dr Marr said all students have been treated as having special circumstances, and individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account. “We have closely scrutinised any borderline results and careful checks have been made at every stage of the process including review and approval by external examiners.

“Results are final and we believe they have been determined fairly and consistently in line with guidance from our regulators whilst maintaining academic integrity and standards,” she added.
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GabiAbi84
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There is a small minority of students who are “outraged” some because they didn’t read the information given. Others because in certain modules they had to adjust marks for online exams as they were not in line with marks that would have been “normal” for an in person exam.
On the whole the OU provided us with as much info and opportunities as they could. People could have opted for a postponement of their final assessments, they could defer, or they could have the ease of not having that final pressure and accept the statistical adjustments.
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Muttley79
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Some of the reason may be because usually all the TMAs are recorded by readers for those who need that support. No reading has been done since March except for a few done by staff at home.

In addition a lot of students have specially prepared resources which staff could not prepare at home.
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Fuzzy Conifer
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(Original post by GabiAbi84)
There is a small minority of students who are “outraged” some because they didn’t read the information given. Others because in certain modules they had to adjust marks for online exams as they were not in line with marks that would have been “normal” for an in person exam.
On the whole the OU provided us with as much info and opportunities as they could. People could have opted for a postponement of their final assessments, they could defer, or they could have the ease of not having that final pressure and accept the statistical adjustments.
My son's final assignment was cancelled. All the way through his final year he was told to focus mainly on the two final assignments which would give him 70% of his marks and not to worry too much about the other ones which weren't as important. His marks were then based on statistical adjustments made by the OU using the results from the earlier "unimportant" assessments. His score when he had completed his last assignment meant he was just 4 points away from gaining a 2:2 but when he received his final adjusted score it had dropped to being 6 points away from a 2:2. Had he had the opportunity to complete his final assignment it would have been possible for him to make up the deficit to achieve a 2:2 grade rather than the 3rd he ended up with. As for being provided with information about opting for postponement or deferring, the tutor said she didn't know anything about being able to postpone and thought this was just a rumour, she suggested we contacted student services. We tried and tried to get through to them over a few days and when we finally did, my son was told he would need to speak to a supervisor but none were available. As for deferring to next year, by the time he had tried to access information to try and make an informed decision, it was too late to do that.
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Johnpaul S
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Hi I am in a similar boat to others with my scores being affected quite badly due to there assessment strategy. I understand there is s petition going around about this issue, i was wondering where i can find this so i can sign it.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Fuzzy Conifer)
My son's final assignment was cancelled. All the way through his final year he was told to focus mainly on the two final assignments which would give him 70% of his marks and not to worry too much about the other ones which weren't as important. His marks were then based on statistical adjustments made by the OU using the results from the earlier "unimportant" assessments. His score when he had completed his last assignment meant he was just 4 points away from gaining a 2:2 but when he received his final adjusted score it had dropped to being 6 points away from a 2:2. Had he had the opportunity to complete his final assignment it would have been possible for him to make up the deficit to achieve a 2:2 grade rather than the 3rd he ended up with. As for being provided with information about opting for postponement or deferring, the tutor said she didn't know anything about being able to postpone and thought this was just a rumour, she suggested we contacted student services. We tried and tried to get through to them over a few days and when we finally did, my son was told he would need to speak to a supervisor but none were available. As for deferring to next year, by the time he had tried to access information to try and make an informed decision, it was too late to do that.
This seems very frustrating and unacceptable conduct on the part of the open uni. I often hear stories about students not having anyone to contact.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Johnpaul S)
Hi I am in a similar boat to others with my scores being affected quite badly due to there assessment strategy. I understand there is s petition going around about this issue, i was wondering where i can find this so i can sign it.
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitio...de-calculation
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Johnpaul S
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Thanks.
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GabiAbi84
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I am sorry for your son’s situation.
His final module sounds similar to nine in the marking scheme-my tutors however never suggested ignoring the first “Unimportant” assignments, quite the opposite in fact as they were setting up the knowledge and skills for my final project.

I also received an email from the university 5/4 sent across the board to inform me of the information on how the results would be worked out, my options if I wanted to complete the final assignment. They also guided me to the university wide information pages that were constantly updated. I was kept informed all the way through.

If your son hasn’t accepted his degree classification then he might have the opportunity to complete a different module to help bring his grade up.
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homunculus
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(Original post by claireestelle)
it was more due to the tutors mostly all being part time and having other jobs and commitments
Is this really an acceptable excuse, that the university staff are busy with other things? You're the one paying for tuition, how can you be fine with your tutors having other commitments?
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GabiAbi84
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(Original post by homunculus)
Is this really an acceptable excuse, that the university staff are busy with other things? You're the one paying for tuition, how can you be fine with your tutors having other commitments?
Cancelling the final assignments had nothing to do with tutor commitments tbh -they made other adjustments to help tutors.
The cancellations were for the students who would have found it difficult/impossible to have completed their final asssignments - those in front-line positions, those having to home school kids, those having to support sick/vulnerable relatives.
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FV75
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This type of grade adjustment linked to past results is also being made to A-level and GCSE results this year - it is not exclusive to the OU.

e.g. https://inews.co.uk/news/education/g...england-450236
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homunculus
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(Original post by FV75)
This type of grade adjustment linked to past results is also being made to A-level and GCSE results this year - it is not exclusive to the OU.

e.g. https://inews.co.uk/news/education/g...england-450236
Not true https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/07...des-this-year/
Plus A levels and GCSEs aren't university qualifications
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username5359312
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As a current OU student, I study alongside a lot of people who don’t fully understand the OU classification system. It isn’t so dictated by straight % like at brick universities as their grade boundaries change. It isn’t always 85% to achieve a grade 1. In one history module they lowered this to 79% and people’s EMA grades were adjusted accordingly, appearing lower than their TMA scores.

*Edit, also, originally offered the opportunity to defer and take any EMA or exam next academic year so hopefully that’s still an option for people not satisfied with the grade they received?
Last edited by username5359312; 1 week ago
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Fuzzy Conifer)
the tutor said she didn't know anything about being able to postpone and thought this was just a rumour, she suggested we contacted student services. We tried and tried to get through to them over a few days and when we finally did, my son was told he would need to speak to a supervisor but none were available. As for deferring to next year, by the time he had tried to access information to try and make an informed decision, it was too late to do that.
Why is this all plural? 'We' tried to get through to student services, and when we finally did...' Isn't your final-year undergraduate son the one who needs to sort this all out by his own endeavours, rather than having his mum getting involved in the process?
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username5359312
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Why is this all plural? 'We' tried to get through to student services, and when we finally did...' Isn't your final-year undergraduate son the one who needs to sort this all out by his own endeavours, rather than having his mum getting involved in the process?
I don’t understand the intention behind your response but I think this is quite an unfair judgement to make. You don’t know this persons situation or that of their son.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by QuestioningPsych)
I don’t understand the intention behind your response but I think this is quite an unfair judgement to make. You don’t know this persons situation or that of their son.
Which is why I was asking the question, rather than making a definite judgement. The clue that I was asking questions is to be found in the two question marks I used.

I was asking the question because 'we' comes up with increasing frequency now when discussing anything HE related. Anyone who has worked in HE will be able to tell you just how many times 'we' do all sorts.
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Which is why I was asking the question, rather than making a definite judgement. The clue that I was asking questions is to be found in the two question marks I used.

I was asking the question because 'we' comes up with increasing frequency now when discussing anything HE related. Anyone who has worked in HE will be able to tell you just how many times 'we' do all sorts.
No need to be condescending, I’m fully aware of what a question mark means. Whether you ask a question or make a statement, it’s clear you were implying something that would prove more negative than positive for the recipient. It comes across as judgemental regardless.

I think that’s quite interesting. Maybe because HE is more accessible nowadays, parents/guardians are more involved as they’d like to understand it a little more? Certainly an interesting topic point. In the context of this thread, I’d look into aiding my child who was confused by/unhappy with their degree results. I imagine receiving a 3rd class is an upsetting and a stressful situation and a student would benefit from support and guidance from a guardian/mentor.
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