POLS1002 students have been forced onto a rollercoaster of changing information after their final examination was considered “compromised” by CASS Acting Associate Dean (Student Experience) Douglas Craig. However, questions have been raised regarding CASS’s decision to invalidate the exam after it was revealed that information similar to that which compromised the 2019 exam was also given to students during the 2018 iteration of the course.

This semester’s POLS1002 exam was deemed illegitimate under rule 11, section (3) (a) of the ANU’s Assessment Rule 2016. Douglas Craig outlined that information regarding “some of the questions in that exam were erroneously supplied to some, but not all, students in the course”.

Documents acquired by Woroni indicate that content similar to that “erroneously supplied” to students before this semester’s exam was also provided to students during the 2018 iteration of the course.

Professor Rae Frances outlined that the document provided to students constituted a breach of academic integrity as it “included detailed marking schemes”, “full, detailed answers for specific questions”, and “it was circulated only to selected tutorial groups”.

Course Rep Nguyen ... highlighted that the material in her opinion was "not anything surprising or massively helpful in the actual study leading up to the exam" and that the situation had created "unnecessary" stress for students.

However, the document given to students in 2018 contains content comparable to the “detailed marking schemes”, outlined by Professor Frances. In both the 2018 and 2019 iterations of the document, recipients were given summaries of topics covered during the course. These summaries included the points required for students to address in their exam responses and how many marks corresponded to each of the highlighted points.

Additionally, last year’s document similarly contained identical “detailed answers for specific questions” to those present in the 2019 equivalent. The documents provided to Woroni demonstrate that in both this and the previous year’s version, students were provided with the referenced ‘detailed information’. Both versions of the document outlined topics and themes covered during the course in comprehensive detail. However, POLS1002 Course Representative, Sophie Nguyen, affirmed that “the information and content [present in the document] were accessible and not ‘additional”.

Finally, last year’s document was similarly distributed to only a selection of students that undertook the course. In both 2018 and 2019, the relevant document was provided solely to members of specific tutorials, which constituted approximately 80 of the 450 students in 2019.

Multiple students that undertook the course in 2018 additionally confirmed that the information given to students in previous years drew distinct similarities to the content considered “erroneously supplied” in 2019.

Course Rep Nguyen outlined that she believes “the tutor was doing his job by accumulating accessible information and presenting it to us to help us prepare for an exam.” She also highlighted that the material in her opinion was “not anything surprising or massively helpful in the actual study leading up to the exam” and that the situation had created “unnecessary” stress for students. Multiple present and past students have echoed Nguyen’s sentiment.

Initially, all students were told that they would be required to resit the exam in the first week of semester two. Forty-eight hours later, students were informed via a post on Schmidtposting by Nguyen that they would not be required to resit the exam, but instead, certain questions would be struck out of the exam and marked out of 60 instead of 80. An ANU spokesperson asserted that the change in the ANU’s response to the examination was the result of “extensive consultation and feedback from affected students and ANUSA.”

The questions that have been struck out are Section A, Q1 (Public Good), and Q3 (Collective Action), with the remaining six questions, scored out of 30. Additionally, Section B, Q6 (Majoritarian vs PR electoral systems) will not be assessed. If students did not choose to write Q6, the lowest long answer score would be dropped from the exam, and it will be graded out of 30.

Despite the revision to the marking system, students have been outraged by the situation, with many believing that the new system could still unfairly advantage some students over others. Shayan Lahijanian, who is a 2019 POLS1002 student, said that “every solution to the problem at hand disadvantages students as a whole…those that answered the Majoritarian vs Proportional Representation [question] are almost always disadvantaged unless that was indeed the worst answer”.

An ANU Spokesperson outlined that “the University regrets the inconvenience and distress caused by marking alterations to the POLS1002 final exam”, and that “any students who feel disadvantaged by these measures are welcome to follow the University’s Assessment Appeals Process.”

Students have been asked not to contact their relevant tutors, and instead, to contact Acting Associate Dean Craig directly at assocdeanst.cass@anu.edu.au.

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