Agony aunt

November 2, 2001

Q Students can use computers to assess essays by peers before they submit their own work. Isn't that plagiarism?

A Of course it is.

The idea that students might learn anything, especially the skills involved in evaluating through marking the work of their peers, is patently absurd... isn't it?

Students can only learn from us since we have been trained to assess... haven't we?

They may spend 20 hours searching and evaluating information from the most up-to-date web sources before creating the essay, but what is that compared with the amount of time that we take in creating our model solutions?

There is no comparison between an essay marked on average by six different students for approximately 40 minutes each, and the "quality time" that we spend as experts marking each essay Our "detailed" and "quality" feedback is vastly superior, and much more constructive, to that of a mere student!

These new ideas of computerised peer support and assessment will never be able to replace the quality of tutor marking. It just won't catch on, I'm afraid.

Then again, I did hear at an Association of Learning Technologies conference that students thought that they had learnt considerably more from using such a system because their work was marked "properly" for once.

Phil Davies
School of Computing
University of Glamorgan

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