A recent mid semester exam in the computer science course COMP2420, Introduction to Data Management, Analysis and Security, has faced accusations from students of being administered unfairly.
COMP2420 is a Computer Science course compulsory for students studying a Bachelor of Advanced Computing and a Bachelor of Information Technology, and is an optional course for students majoring in Computer Science. The course currently has 351 students enrolled.
Students experienced technical difficulties in accessing their mid-semester exam, thereby reducing the time to complete the assessment. As a result, a large majority of students requested the mid-semester exam be classed as “redeemable.”
Typically in a COMP subject with both a mid-semester and a final exam, this means a student’s grade on a mid-semester exam can be “redeemed” on a final exam.
In this case, the 14 percent attributed to the mid-semester exam would be added to the weighting of their final exam, only if this leaves the student better off overall. Alternatively, if students perform well in their mid semester, the original weightings will apply.
This method of assessment is common within the School of Computing, and has been used in other courses such as COMP1110 and COMP1600. However, notably, this reassignment of weighting occurs after the results of both exams, to ensure the student is better off overall.
In COMP2420, the convenor has instead made students choose to “opt-in” to the redeemable system before receiving their final grade for the mid-sem, meaning students must choose now if they wish for their mid-semester to be weighted 14 percent and their final 50 percent, or 0 percent with 64 percent towards the final.
Importantly, if students choose not to count their mid semester, it will not be marked at all – so they will receive no feedback for this assessment item.
Students have expressed concern over this, as there appears to be no guarantee the final will be exempt from these technical difficulties or length concerns at this time. Additionally, students have expressed that this option feels like “gambling,” with students having to make a decision without complete information.
This decision has raised concerns across academic areas, as it sets a precedent of students being penalised for a technical error caused by poor administration of the course. Students also feel this option reflects a trend throughout this course of poor feedback on assessment items.
Finally, students are concerned as efforts by Course Representatives and CECS Representatives to contact the Convenor via email before the deadline for this decision have been unsuccessful, demonstrating a departure from the accepted procedures of escalating concerns about courses at the ANU.
When asked for comment, an ANU spokesperson stated, “The School of Computing is unaware of any complaints about grading in COMP2420, nor have students directly raised issues with the School” but noted the school was “ looking into the matter.”
The University suggests that students contact their “course convener, the Associate Dean of Education in their respective academic college or the ANU Dean of Students” should they have any concerns about assessments or grading.
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