Auf wiedersehen, test: German exam grade void

Students informed ten days after sitting test that the results are to be discounted because of “unfair advantage”.

Marks for a third year German exam have been discounted after confusion over whether the exam was intended to be ‘seen’ or ‘unseen’.

Approximately 40 students sat the exam, which accounted for 70 per cent of a compulsory module for all third year students, on the 16th January. Just 10 days later students were informed that they would all have to re-sit it.

This decision followed an investigation, which revealed that Marc Schweissinger, a lecturer in the School of Modern Languages, had wrongly provided students with the exam questions prior to the exam.

The majority of students were of the understanding that the exam was a seen exam and therefore prepared answers to the paper. However, not all students were aware of this and consequently complained the examination was not a fair assessment. It was therefore ruled that some students had been given an unfair advantage and that marks for all students should be discounted.

After meeting with the students affected, the department proposed two alternative courses of action. In an email sent to the students, they outlined the options to either to take forward the average of their two best course work marks or submit two alternative assignments by week 5 of the Spring semester.

Students were also given the option to re-sit the exam with a new exam paper.

In response to concerns, the email stressed that they have ‘pledged that, at the final degree classification examination board, the mark for this module will be scrutinised’ and ‘discounted should it impact negatively on degree classification’.

A Cardiff University spokesman said: “We were made aware of an exam irregularity affecting final-year German students and took immediate steps to remedy this in a fair and equitable manner.”

Amongst the options outlined to resolve the situation, it was added that all students have been given “the opportunity to meet individually with senior members of the German teaching team to discuss the best option for them.”

Despite the error, students have praised the department for their handling of the situation. One student commented: “MLANG handled a difficult situation very well.” Adding: “A seen exam seemed like a reasonable format because the quality of the written German is more important than our ability to come up with, say, complex arguments about the EU on the spot.”

“The lecturer probably didn’t realise he’d made a mistake. It’s frustrating to have to decide whether to do more work for last semester’s module when I have new work to do this semester.”

Another student on the course reiterated these views, adding: “I was really impressed by how relevant members of staff within MLANG met with us and prioritised everyone’s individual options for resolving the issue.”

“Having discussed the outcomes of the meeting with other German students, I feel the consensus is that the department dealt with the situation in the fairest way possible whilst ensuring the academic integrity of our chosen method of assessment.”

Errors were also reported in a Politics exam and a Bioscience exam. Mistakes in the wording of questions in each led to students being interrupted during the exams.

The error would appear relatively minor in comparison to reports given by first year Bioscience students last year.

Speaking to Gair Rhydd students reported to have been given half printed exam papers, interrupted multiple times and asked to answer 12 questions when only 10 were given.