Personal comments

February 2, 2012

It was the students who pushed for anonymous marking at the University of East Anglia, brought in, as I understand it, due to the "fairness" argument ("Attributive justice", 26 January). However, the recent introduction of more formative work has inadvertently led to a welcome return to marking named scripts and, as a consequence, to knowing students by name rather than by number. Many of my students now voluntarily put their names on summative scripts, too.

Knowing who wrote a paper makes no difference to the mark, because we all follow marking criteria, but it makes a huge difference to the comments I write: with a name I can enter into a dialogue with a particular student.

I remember, as an undergraduate, one rather lecherous lecturer giving all the female students a B grade and all the male students a C. There were no comments to accompany the grades (although there were a few mutterings from the lads on the course). As George MacDonald Ross, the author of "Attributive justice", implies, clear marking criteria and detailed feedback would have stopped this practice, with no need to resort to anonymous marking.

Harriet Jones, Senior lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia

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