Yesterday, all day, I was in examiners meetings like last year. Having the same conversation with the external examiner as 12 months ago, except that I'd worked hard to make sure that any border-line cases were resolved in my head (and on the official sheets) beforehand. I hate the assessment aspects of the business and I think it distracts students from paying attention and actually learning something. But it's a game we are obliged to play so that most of the students can get their cert or dip or degree after their years of study. It's sad to see them making what seem to be poor choices - not taking continuous assessment quizzes; not handing in sick-notes to cover their chronic health problems; not handing up essential but basically trivial assignments. Actually I go stronger than 'sad' to 'annoyed', because it means that we the examiners have to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to do the right thing. The Right Thing here is to get a true assessment of the student's ability in a particular field. This nudging of the system towards compassion is not symmetrical: it the marks are surprisingly up then it is deemed impossibly unfair to drag them down; but if the marks are down it is usually possible to inch them up. I've watched a couple of my students all through the year, one with illness in her family which has meant missing lots of classes and the other struggling into class bug-eyed with pain and nausea but quite unable to write write up the work afterwards. I was delighted that both of them passed, but in the latter case 'could do better' was written all over her assessments but there was no doctor's note to inform the discussion, so arguments on her behalf were deemed (properly I guess) inadmissible.
And I note that none of the logistical problems with processing the actual data,which we complained about to Head Office last year, have been altered for the better (of for more efficiency!) this year. Ho hum, are you surprised? I'm not.
After a whole day shuffling papers a dozen of us tooled off to the local tapas bar and politely urged each other to eat more black-pudding-and-quails-egg, papas bravas, scallops, pulled pork and salad while pouring dhrink down our own throats. After a good bit of the latter, all over bar the shouting turned into all shouting in the bar as the dhrink started to impede the ability of the ears to process incoming information. And that's it for the year. Except for those of us who have applied for money to run some of the final year graduates over the MSc hurdles. We have to come in next week to interview the candidates.