It’s a negative for marking system

THE WITS School of Economics and Business has done away with negative marking following complaints from students about the practice.

“We have had constant complaints from students about negative marking in the past and many students were blaming the negative marking for their failure, especially in the economics courses,” said head of school Prof. Judy Backhouse.

The School decided to stop using negative marking in all their multiple-choice question assessments at the end of the 2012 academic year.

Backhouse said the decision to halt negative marking was taken at a school planning attended by academic staff in the school.

The decision was based on research which concluded that female students were prejudiced by negative marking more than their male counterparts, as they were less likely to take risks and guess at answers.

Backhouse added that it would be better to not have an assessment system that disadvantaged women.

Mlibatisi Kunene, 3rd year Economics, said negative marking was a bad thing.“If I don’t know the answer give me a zero, don’t penalize me for it,” he said.

Backhouse said the effects of negative marking were not completely understood.“When we do not use negative marking it is worth students guessing an answer for every question and some of those answers will, by chance, be right,” Backhouse told Wits Vuvuzela.

She said some students might get better marks than they deserve. “We feel that we can design the assessments in such a way that these ‘free’ marks do not result in students passing who do not deserve to pass.”

Backhouse said they were monitoring the effects of this change in the marking strategy and they will be observing the impact on student results.