A 2:1 in..?

I got my grades back from this year, and I’m very interested to look not at the scores, but at the standard deviation of those scores. Out of 100 percent, 3.279 is a very narrow variance, which would show that my weighted mean is a fair representation of my scores.
Grade Analysis

Blue: Subjects where I scores 63 & 64%
Green: The most fantastic module where we made giant posters and presented them in a poster conference, then had online discussions about the content of said posters, which was graded. Followed by a multiple choice exam.
Orange: A coursework assignment, followed by a final exam, with multiple choice questions and short essay questions.
Yellow: Completely unimaginative final exam, with multiple choice questions and short essay questions.

And it falls into the 2:1 classification category. Good.

This summer, 70% of students across the nation (and my sister is one of them) will graduate with a 2:1 degree or higher. Those who don’t will either be sent to an old poly to do a masters degree, or to do a PGCE, or to work in the HR department at Tesco. Because we’ve created a stigma to go along with our degree classifications, that if you don’t get your 2:1 you’ve basically failed, the universities are doing everything they can to ensure that the 70% statistic holds.

My solid 65.25% could mean that the grading system is an accurate measure, confirmed by test-retest reliability across time. But what exactly is 62.25% is a score of? Recall? How much of a neuro-psychologist I am? Or a developmental psychologist I am? Or a psycholinguist? Or a researcher? Or a computer scientist?

Wait?! Computer scientist? That has very little to do with psychology. Yet my different modules are also quite unrelated to one another, they talk about different paradigms, different topics, different research methods, some more exciting, some less. Yet even so, my grades are reliably steady. I reckon I could get a 2:1 in absolutely anything. I believe in me!

That’s why I’ve used colour coding in the table above, to try connect the different teaching methods and spot trends in the data. And again, there’s a very random spread among the different levels of the independent variable. For the ‘coursework and typical final exam’ subjects, I got 70%, with subsequent scores regressing to the mean, and for the very ordinary ‘typical exam’ subjects I got my lowest score, as well as one in line with the mean. Most interestingly, the subject which I enjoyed the most, Personality and Individual Differences* was right on the mode average and just one percent above the median. Also very interesting is that the two research methods modules, (RMIII & RMIV), both measured identically, scored a time consistent 60%, despite me thinking I was improving.

This tells us that these results do not conclusively argue for the class results being an accurate measure merely of memory under exam conditions. However they could argue that the system is designed to produce lots and lots of 2:1’s, since across a whole array of different subjects, teaching methods and assessment methods, the results are steady.

I don’t think that the current system allows for the genuine expression of student’s novel thought and intellectual talents at undergraduate level. There’s enough hoop jumping and invalid measures to ensure that students who are at least obedient will get their ordinary degree, without demonstrating much beyond content memorisation.

*Personality and Individual Differences was assessed very uniquely, with class groups making posters, and then subsequent graded online discussion using social media.

2 thoughts on “A 2:1 in..?

  1. Take a look, if you would, at my dergee results, and tell me that you come to the same conclusion:

    Year 2:
    55 – Geography: computer practicals, essay exam
    60 – Geography: Essays, essay exam
    67 – Geography: Essays, essay exam
    73 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam
    76 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam
    80 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam
    87 – Computer programming: coursework (first year module)
    47 – Geography: Essays, essay exam (hated this one)
    53 – Geography: Essays, essay exam (loved this one, but messed up 1 essay question in the exam)
    72 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam
    66 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam (hated this one)
    69 – Maths: small fortnightly homework, exam

    Year 3:
    74 – Maths Education: Essays
    63 – Geography: Essays, essay exam (3 days after baby born)
    59 – Maths: Exam (2 days after baby born)
    71 – Maths – Exam (second yr module)
    70 – Geography – Computer practical report, essay exam
    71 – Maths: Exam (Rubbish lecturer)
    74 – Maths: Exam
    78 – Maths: Exam (hardest module, but I enjoyed this one most this year)

    My conclusion: my results indicate I did well in the subjects I liked best, and was not as good in essay style exams, so method of assessment had an impact on my result too. I reckon you’re just a good all-rounder at different assessment types. Some of us weren’t so talented. Thankfully, I’ve pulled off a first!

  2. Very interesting and I agree with Matt s comment below about results displaying preferred topics and examination technique. I personally did much better in my coursework subjects compared to those only assessed by exams.
    One thing I don’t agree with is that if someone does not achieve a 2.1 (I got a 2.1 this year and am hoping to continue this in my final year!) Could to a PGCE. That is adhering to the phrase those who can do and those who can’t teach. I disagree with that entirely as I said I am hopefully on track for a 2.1 and will be doing a PGCE. I have wanted to teach at primary level and focus on encouraging and helping those with learning disabilities. There is nothing wrong with doing a PGCE we wouldn’t be at university if it wasn’t for teachers preparing us and I personally would not be comfortable sending my child to a school where they are being taught by someone with anything less that a 2.1.

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