PETITION AGAINST UNJUST MARKING AND ASSESSMENT OF SMN401-S ASSIGNMENT-2 BY UNISA LECTURER Mr Preshodan Naidoo

Background

As part of our qualification for BTECH SAFETY MANAGEMENT (BTSMN) we are expected as students to study five(5) compulsory modules which are credited towards the qualification and this include SAFETY MANAGEMENT IV (SMN401-S) which is a year module consisting of  Assignment 1 and 3 which when combined will count 30% towards our final mark and Assignment 2 and 4 (Research proposal Part 1 and Part which counts 30% of our final mark , meaning that all four(4) assignments count 60% towards our final year mark. These assignments we were informed in accordance with SMN401-S tutorial letter 101 would be assessed against specific outcomes provided with the assignments as well as the assessment rubric provided for each assignment. As part of the qualification we are also doing a Research Methodology module which is RME101Q whereby we are expected to compile a research proposal as part of assignment 2 for the module which is in fact in line with the specific outcomes for the module.  

Issues of concern

There are inconsistencies on how the lecturer/markers assessed students on SMN401-S assignment 2 because some students who did not follow the instructions and guidelines for the assessment criteria received more marks as opposed to some students who followed the assessment criteria which has the potential to reduce the year mark for students unfairly, particularly deserving students. In order for SMN401-S assignment 4 (Research proposal part 2) to be completed students had to receive feedback for assignment 2 (research proposal part 1) first which would guide them on how to go about completing assignment 4 which did not happen in time due to technological reasons as was cited by the lecturer which is in fact another delay caused by the university which significantly affects students workload considering we are 2 months away from October/November examination period. Our observations are that the lecturer/markers did a copy and paste of the assessment rubric because it is inconceivable that the majority of students can receive similar comments for totally varying research proposal which each individual student compiled themselves and hence the assessment fails validity, authenticity, currency and is not systematic because if it was there would not be students who receive higher marks even though they failed to follow simple technical requirements and lower marks for those who followed instructions to the letter. The feedback does not in any way assist students on how they should go about responding to SMN401-S assignment 4.The extension of the submission date for SMN401-S assignment 4 is more detrimental to students due to the amount of workload considering majority of students have three (3) year modules to write plus supplementary examinations in the next two (2) months which can all be attributed to university inefficiency.The instructions given for completion of SMN401-S assignment 2 and 4 are ambiguous particularly considering the fact that most of the students were only encountering research proposal for the first time in their academic life.Students were instructed to use UNISA library e-resources amongst others, which according to feedback received by most students are not academic sources which then becomes bizarre as to what in fact are academic sources if the very resources students were instructed to use are not. 8. failure by students of any assignment/s is tantamount to failure of the module considering that all four (4) assignments combined count 60% towards the examination and due to the myriad of issues pertaining the assignments particularly assignment 2 & 4, this has the potential to affect students’ performance and could be a determining factor whether they pass or fail the module.  

Recommendations

1.The university should embark on process of getting all SMN401-S assignment 2 for all students without exception to be re-assessed by a lecturer/marker specialising in research methodology and all SMN401-S assignment 4 for all students should likewise be assessed by a lecturer/marker specialising in research methodology to prevent students failing unfairly because what students were being assessed on is in fact their ability to conduct sound academic research which has nothing to do with SMN401-S but has more to do with RME101-Q.

2.The university should enhance study material delivery processes to curb delays and postponements which negatively affects students’ performance and time management.

3.In order to resolve the ambiguity of instructions for SMN401-S assignments 2 and 4, both should be incorporated into one as a complete research proposal with proper support for students on how they should tackle the assignments considering that none of the students if not most have ever done research in their lives or been taught how to do such.

4.The university should consider replacing the lecturer for SMN401-S module and this is a concerted view of the majority of students aggrieved by the recent feedback received from the lecturer regarding SMN401-S assignment 2 because as things stand students do not even know how to go proceed with assignment 4 , amidst the examination preparations which they should be embarking on.

5.The schism between SMN401-S tutorial letter 101/0/2017 and SMN401-S tutorial letter 102 should be resolved with immediate effect to resolve the confusion the two documents cause for students. Tutorial letter 102 seems clear in terms of the structure of the research proposal and is unambiguous as opposed to the instructions given for assignment 2 and 4.


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