Unisa to probe negligent exam markers

Unisa will conduct an urgent audit of exam and assignment marking at the institution, it said on Wednesday, following a Carte Blanche insert of mistakes in the marking of exam papers.

"…Where responsible staff members are found to have been negligent, [we will] take immediate and appropriate disciplinary steps against them," spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said.

Last month the Mail & Guardian reported on two students who got lower marks than they expected for an exam and when they requested their scripts to be remarked, their marks increased drastically.

The Carte Blanche team then on Sunday spoke to students who believed their assignments and exams had been marked incorrectly. 

Nicky Lindegar, who is studying teaching at the distance learning institution, told Carte Blanche that all five students in her study group got exactly the same mark for one of their assignments.

"When we queried it, we were told there are too many assignments, they only mark the first however many, and the rest get an average mark," she said in Carte Blanche's Sunday night segment.

In the case of one of the students, Nigel Naidoo, his mark jumped from 31% to 62%. Their marks were never officially changed in Unisa's system, however. 

In Naidoo's interaction with Unisa, he discovered that some of the mark allocations and questions in the exam paper were different to what were in the memorandum used by exam markers. 

When the M&G asked Unisa how many students had written this particular exam the institution said 49 students had. But Carte Blanche also interviewed Naidoo and when it asked Unisa the same question, the institution told them 702 students had written it.

Three marketing students told Carte Blanche that they and other students in their class had been getting an average of about 80% for their course so when they all received exactly the same mark of 37.14% for a module they knew something was wrong. 

The institution serves about 400 000 students.

In another example, they said they had submitted exactly the same answers for multiple-choice questions in a test but had received different marks. 

In its Wednesday statement, Unisa said its audit "will include a review of the appointment of markers employed by the university, improvement of quality control measures for the assignment and examination management processes and all other relevant levels, a review of service delivery to our students, and our communication practices and systems".

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Victoria John
Victoria studied journalism, specialising in photojournalism, at Rhodes University from 2004 to 2007. After traveling around the US and a brief stint in the UK she did a year's internship at The Independent on Saturday in Durban. She then worked as a reporter for the South African Press Association for a year before joining the Mail & Guardian as an education reporter in August 2011.

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