University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Students to 'finally' get back past exam papers

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Feb 1, 2011

The Students’ Union (SU) has finally won an appeal to have exam papers returned to students.

The concession was made by a senior official of the university after several years of contention between the university and SU on the subject. During these years several full-time officers have brought proposals to the university asking them to change their policy, but until now it had never been considered a possibility.

Lita Wallis, the Students’ Union Education Officer, and Jo Goodman, the Students’ Union Welfare Officer, lobbied for student access to these papers early last week after pressure was put on them by Ubah Dirie and Ben May.

After prolonged discussion with Professor Clare Mackie, the Pro Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, the decision was made that the change would be beneficial for students wishing to review their work and improve their writing technique.

Lita Wallis has commented that students “will finally be able to use their exam papers as an educational tool rather than a cul-de-sac.” She also commended the students for their activity, saying the change “is a really good example of how positive action can be led by students keeping in touch with the elected officers.”

This new measure will provide students with access to marked papers from all courses with the examiner’s feedback written on it.

This will enable to students to identify the particular aspects of their work which the external marker felt were strong and those which needed improvement.

Under the previous system the papers were archived for seven years and then shredded for legal purposes; students were not granted access to them and were unable to review the examiner’s criticisms.

Sophie Moonshine, a first year English Literature student, commented that, “the old system prevented people from learning from their mistakes. It seems counter-productive to have feedback sitting there which can’t be accessed by the person who would really benefit from it.”

Concerns have been raised amongst staff that the change will require them to give more detailed feedback on the exam papers.

However, the formal proposal suggests that the scheme has been adopted simply to enable students to review what they have written and subsequently take the papers to their tutors if they wish for greater feedback.

The new scheme is yet to be formerly adopted by the university and, once it has, it will take time to filter down to the earlier undergraduate years.

The exam papers are set to start being returned to final-year students at the end of this month and the measure will be effectuated for all years in the ensuing months.

Students will then be able to request their papers after the 21-day potential appeal period has elapsed.
The university were asked to comment on the new system but declined to do so.

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