CHANGE IN THE ASSESSMENT METHODS OF ASSIGNMENTS RELATING TO THE RRLLB81 MODULE

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Hein Mielman started this petition to University of South Africa (University) and

This petition is aimed at Unisa students registered for the LLB module RRLLB81 in the first semester of 2019, that wishes to bring certain issues relating to the assessment of the module under the attention of the faculty of law at the University of South Africa.

These students wish to make it known that they are dissatisfied with some, or all, of the following aspects of the RRLLB81 assessment program:

1. Assignment 1 is a multiple choice questionnaire which requires independent research. Multiple choice questionnaires do not allow students to substantiate their answers in the independent research they have done. This means that a student might have found research to support a particular answer, only to have it marked wrong, because the student's research differs from the official research done by Unisa staff.

2. The marks received for assignment 2 are extremely low, and the comments received from the assessors does not satisfactorily deal with the problems students experience in their research and does not give sufficient insight as to how students may improve their assignments for their final portfolios. The assessors have also refrained from filling in the attached marking rubrics in most of the research papers that students have submitted.

3. The faculty refuses to grant re-evaluation of the research papers, and has sent out what is perceived by the students as a mass email telling students that they have reviewed the assignments and that the low marks are deserving of the work handed in. Assuming a standpoint that no review is available is contrary to the principles of good public administration.

4. Some students have at this date, 07 May 2019, still not received feedback, in any form or manner, for assignment 2 and will not be able to affect the changes needed to pass their final assessment in time for the submission of the final portfolio.

5. There where no supervisors assigned to students in this research module, which could have avoided some of the problems experienced by the students.

 

It is the hope of the undersigned that the faculty address these issues by doing the following:

a) Not allow multiple choice questionnaires to be used in assignments that require independent research, and limit the use of multiple choice questionnaires only to instances where the answers may be obtained from the prescribed material.

b) Provide students with sufficient comment on their assignments, so that they are put in a position to affect changes that will allow them to submit proper research papers for their final assessments, and in doing so, learn the skills required to be competent legal practitioners and academics.

c) Listen and respond to the individual issues that students have raised in defense of their research after receiving unsatisfactory comments, and in no instance assume a standpoint that re-evaluation is not possible.

d) Provide those students who have not received feedback, proper comments or guidance on their assessments with a date at which the above will be made available.

e) Extend the submission date for the final assessment so that the lecturers will have enough time to provide students with satisfactory feedback, comments and guidance, and coincidentally give students enough time to respond to such feedback, comments and guidance to allow them to submit proper research papers worthy of the completion of the LLB Degree.

f) Assign research supervisors to students doing research modules, as a preventative measure for future students.

UPDATE: 09/05/2019

Lecturers have posted various announcements on myUnisa to inform students of their side of the argument. We advise all students to read these announcements and give their comments on the whatsapp group or in the comments below, so that a response might be set up if it is so required.

UPDATE 09/05/2019

We would like to thank all the students that are supporting this cause with their comments and of course by signing the petition.

We would also like to remind all students that while we are currently experiencing discord with the lecturers, no student should act disrespectfully towards any of the Unisa staff during this time. The reason why we started a petition is to engage with the lecturers in a structured manner that brings our complaints to their attention in a way that is sound in procedure and void of disrespect. The lecturers are currently dealing with some of the issues we raised in the petition by posting announcements on myUnisa. We will monitor these announcements and by tomorrow 12:00 post a response on any issues that were not answered.

UPDATE 10/05/2019

First of all we would like to thank Prof Deane for opening up communication lines and encouraging us to address our problems to the lecturers and ensuring us that these communications will be answered in due time. With efficient communication we should be able to resolve the remaining issues effectively.

We believe that where students might engage with the lecturers about the content and mistakes in their assignments we would all be able to sufficiently adjust our research to still pass this module and conform to the lecturers expectations.

In answer to the lecturers announcements we would like to clarify the following:

Comments relating to the structure of the module, inter alia, assignment 1 and the appointment of supervisors, are suggestions that some or all of us thought might benefit future students, and it is not our place or within our competence to decide which methods of assessment would sufficiently test the abilities of legal students. It is a bad habit to identify problems without offering solutions which is why these suggestions were included.

The following issues remain:

1. As of yet, some students have still not received their results for assignment 2.

2. Some students have still not received comments that would enable them to improve their research.

3. The students are unwilling to accept that they alone are to blame for not understanding what is expected of them in this module, many of them have passed similar modules like LME, and we do not think that we are unable to think critically or come up with solutions in this regard. Again, we request that the lecturers engage with us personally in this regard and while this issue has not yet been resolved we hope that the effort made by Prof Deane in regards to communication would resolve this issue on a case by case basis. We absolutely welcome constructive criticism that will allow us to develop our critical thinking, and part of the problem is that we feel the lecturers have not sufficiently engaged with us in this regard.

4. In terms of our request that remarking be granted, the students have requested that the lecturers consider the following solution:

a) It will probably be expensive and time consuming for UNISA to remark. 

As a compromise the students suggest:
i) That the year mark be used only where it increases the exam mark. 
ii) where year mark reduces the exam mark, that only the final portfolio mark be used.

b) This would mean those that did well in assignment 2 will still benefit from their work and those that did not do well will not be adversely affected.

We believe that this will save costs to the University while also addressing our problems and can be a good compromise.

5. The students still believe that an extension of submission date is necessary to cater for students who have not yet received feedback, comments or guidance and to those who only received it at a later date. Some of the students who have not yet received feedback, comments or guidance have already started with their exams and finding the time to make the somewhat overwhelming changes to their research is quite difficult.

We hope that the university will engage with us in this regards.

UPDATE 11/05/2019

The lecturers should take note of the time element and the multiple commitments of final year students which are not limited to the RRLLB81 module.

In light of the above it would be futile if our compromise was left open ended. Accordingly, and in good faith, we will allow the Lecturers to respond to our compromise proposal by 12:00 on Monday the 13th May 2019. In the unfortunate and unlikely event that we will not have received a response by the time provided we will be left with no option but to escalate this matter, as we believe we have exhausted all forms of negotiation, taking note of the urgency of our grievance which is closely related to and interlinked with our final year examinations.

We look forward to an amicable resolution on this matter and we believe our compromise is plausible and fair.

UPDATE 19/04/2019

It has become painfully clear that the lecturers refuse to give any consideration to our plights in this regard.

We cannot prejudice our degrees by not submitting our final portfolio's. Therefore the students have decided to make it known to the lecturers that they are submitting their portfolio's under protest, but the issue will remain unsolved until they acknowledge our problems and decide to do something about it.

We will continue to foster support for this cause, and we will continue to fight for what we believe is reasonable and just. We have also engaged with the SRC, they have shown their support and promised to take steps to engage with the lecturers.

Good luck with the exams!

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