New module to be introduced to increase students’ grades

Brian Mahon

This new module allows those who are better at continuous assessment or those who are better at exams, to keep the grade for the part they did the best in. Credit: Sarah O'Neill

A new type of academic module, which can discount lower grades received from continuous assessment in favour of a better result in an end-of-term exam, will be introduced by DCU from next September.

The module type will have a continuous assessment element to it, to encourage participation in classes.

Poor grades received during the continuous assessment period of the module will not harm a student’s final grade.

A student who can demonstrate in the final exam that they have successfully understood and can apply the learning outcomes of the module will be able to claim the higher mark from the final exam. The score from the continuous assessment will be disregarded in this instance.

Deputy Registrar and Dean of Teaching & Learning William Kelly confirmed the new module type had been approved by Academic Council and would be introduced for use in the 2019-2020 academic year.

“Suppose I am a student on a maths module and I undertake a class test on, say, solving a quadratic equation and score very badly on that test.  This amounts to feedback to me that this is an area that I need to address.  I take this feedback on board and set about to improve my understanding of this topic,” said Kelly, when using an example to explain the new module type

“If in the final examination, I show clearly that I can solve quadratic equations satisfactorily, should I be penalised by the earlier class test score?  The new module type says no,” he continued.

Kelly said that the overall score for the module should be the better of the final examination mark or the CA and examination mark combined.

“If my CA mark is higher than the final exam mark, I get the benefit of the CA mark; if the CA mark is lower than the final exam mark, the overall score is given by the final exam mark,” he added.

The new module type was discussed at the University Standards Committee on September 6th and approved by Academic Council, the chief decision making body in relation to academic affairs in the university, on October 3rd.

Asked whether he thought this new module type would lead to grade inflation, DCUSU Academic Affair’s officer Callaghan Commons said: “No, I do not think that this will lead to a grade inflation and a decrease in the value of the degree overall as the students who engaged with the formative exercises throughout the semester will still benefit as they always did.”

“The only difference will be for those who struggled with the module content during the semester as they will not be affected by a low CA mark in their overall grade. As a result, their overall grade will be slightly higher than what it would have been without this new module type but not majorly so as the continuous assessment element percentage is so small,” he added.

The module type would only be used in circumstances where the following conditions apply. All the learning outcomes of the module can be assessed appropriately by a terminal examination. The continuous assessment elements of the module address a subset of the module learning outcomes assessed in the terminal examination. Finally, the continuous assessment element has a weighting of 20 per cent or less.

The module type will be reviewed on an ongoing basis for the next three years by the University Standards Committee.

Brian Mahon

Image credit: Sarah O’Neill