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August 2004, Week 5


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 29 Aug 2004 19:46:50 +0100
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Lou Thompson writes:

>Yeah, and if we could just keep women and those nasty poor people out of
>school like in the good old days, we wouldn't have to worry about
>accusations that tests discriminate against them!

That's not what I was arguing.  If we could shift the emphasis from
lowering the standard for students from 'disadvantaged' (however you care
to define it) backgrounds to providing the support for enabling them to
reach a higher one, then everybody is a winner: from the students who would
have proper degrees as distinct from mickey mouse ones to employers who
would know that graduates can offer genuinely marketable skills.

If the liberal elite is right, then why is it that alumni from Oxbridge
typically end up earning three times more than those from the institution
where I teach within two years of graduating?  The answer is that they're
wrong and that, frankly, earning an Oxbridge degree is a hell of a lot
tougher.  I passionately believe that as one of those 'nasty poor people'
who took myself from comprehensive school leaver to PhD by working 100 hour
weeks, anyone should be able to do the same thing.  But they have to have
what it takes, and they have to be prepared to put in those 100 hour
weeks.  And as for the women issue, feminist educationalists I've read
argue that exams shouldn't be used because they put women at a
psychological disadvantage.  As I said, the same research reveals that
continually assessed coursework inflicts an equivalent disadvantage on
men.  But female academics seem to have no problem whatsoever in teaching
100% coursework modules in the light of this research, whereas anyone who
proposes a 100% exam assessment process is instinctively branded a
sexist.  Double standards or what?

If you get to a situation whereby someone is allowed to gain a
qualification through less attainment than someone else because they are
perceived to have come from a less advantaged background, then the
employment market which is buying that qualification will start to distrust
it.  As an employer, I woudn't care whether someone grew up in a council
house or Hampton Court Palace ; whether they're male, female or
hermaphrodite; black, white or purple; gay, straight or like shagging
goats.  What matters is what they, as a graduate, can and can't do relative
to a school leaver.

That's why zero tolerance on plagiarism - through a combination of
assessment techniques that inhibit it, detection tools and an 'academic
death penalty' for those who are found to have knowingly done it - is about
the only way we have of defeating this problem.


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