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How does anonymous marking work?

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I know anonymous marking makes it so that the prof doesn't know whose exam they are reading while marking, but do profs find out whose exam it was after the mark is submitted?

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It is definitely possible for profs to find out who wrote the exam after the exams are all graded and grades are submitted, for example if a student wants detailed feedback or explanation as to why they received a certain grade, the student can bring/forward a copy of their exam answer to the prof to have that exchange (this is fairly common practice at UofT, I've done this personally for a few classes in 1L). It is also possible for a prof to find out who wrote a really good anonymous exam answer if they want to use the exam answer as an example for students taking the same class in the future, so they can reach out to that student to ask for their permission to be used as an example (this will be a much rarer occurrence, obviously).

Edited by cherrytree

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27 minutes ago, cherrytree said:

It is definitely possible for profs to find out who wrote the exam after the exams are all graded and grades are submitted, for example if a student wants detailed feedback or explanation as to why they received a certain grade, the student can bring/forward a copy of their exam answer to the prof to have that exchange (this is fairly common practice at UofT, I've done this personally for a few classes in 1L). It is also possible for a prof to find out who wrote a really good anonymous exam answer if they want to use the exam answer as an example for students taking the same class in the future, so they can reach out to that student to ask for their permission to be used as an example (this will be a much rarer occurrence, obviously).

So if my exam is not exceptional and I don't ask for feedback on it, profs won't be able to tell which exam is mine?

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Just now, lawwal said:

So if my exam is not exceptional and I don't ask for feedback on it, profs won't be able to tell which exam is mine?

They won't find out and tbh won't care to find out. The admin office is not gonna release to the profs a legend showing which student number/pseudonym corresponds to which student (keep in mind that exam-based law school classes would have 70-80 students). Profs and admin staff would have better things to do with their time.

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1 minute ago, cherrytree said:

They won't find out and tbh won't care to find out. The admin office is not gonna release to the profs a legend showing which student number/pseudonym corresponds to which student (keep in mind that exam-based law school classes would have 70-80 students). Profs and admin staff would have better things to do with their time.

That's good to know. If you know how it works, do you mind explaining the process of submitting grades to me? So profs submit the exam mark and it goes to the admin office who then posts the mark on our student centre or whatever? Also, one of my classes actually only has around 25 students in it and the prof seems very involved with trying to help out people who need it.

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10 minutes ago, lawwal said:

That's good to know. If you know how it works, do you mind explaining the process of submitting grades to me? So profs submit the exam mark and it goes to the admin office who then posts the mark on our student centre or whatever? Also, one of my classes actually only has around 25 students in it and the prof seems very involved with trying to help out people who need it.

Just a disclaimer I've never worked with law school admin and I don't have any first-hand experiences with how that whole process works, but I've always assumed that yes, professors fill out the grade they have given to each pseudonym/student number, the admin office takes that list and matches the pseudonym to the real name corresponding with it, and that would be the grade uploaded to the student centre portal where you log in to check your grades. I can't conceive of any other reasonable way for this process to work, lol

I also can't speak to how things work exactly with your 25-people class, but if you are specifically worried about the airtightness of anonymity for a class where the prof works closely with a smaller number of students and may get identifying details about a particular student's work because of that, I would recommend reaching out to the assistant/associate dean of your school who's in charge of academic matters and see what they can tell you.  

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Honestly might be different school to school. I know my prof made a comment to me about my mark neither to ask if he could post it as an example or because I asked him about it. I think after they've submitted the mark they can tell who's it was, but I think most of the time they wouldn't bother.

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I think I was the only person who handwrote my exams in law school so mine was definitely not anonymous!

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At Osgoode I know the work submitted is anonymized, but I suspect professors have a way to find out who ultimately got what grade in the class after grades are submitted and approved. I say this because a professor (who otherwise had no way of knowing I did very well in the class) emailed me asking me to do some work for them after final grades were released and cited me having been an active participant in class and doing very well in their class as their reason for the email. 
 

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On 12/15/2020 at 12:19 AM, lawwal said:

If you know how it works, do you mind explaining the process of submitting grades to me? So profs submit the exam mark and it goes to the admin office who then posts the mark on our student centre or whatever? Also, one of my classes actually only has around 25 students in it and the prof seems very involved with trying to help out people who need it.

I have instructed courses at an Ontario college for 10 years.  Each instructor is responsible for entering their own marks into an online database. The admin office or my direct superiors will usually not even look at it until I enter final marks for the course. 

Each instructor generally has some wiggle room in how much weight to put on each test, exam, or assignment. {I deleted some details here regarding this, because it is beside the point of what you asked, but feel free to ask me anything}.

Students may be listed by first/last name and/or student number.

Instructors can very easily cross reference student numbers with student names, and it is actually essential to be able to do so due to issues like plagiarism or a student omitting their student number (when required) or their full name (it annoys me, but I have seen many exams and assignments with a first name only).

Our college has fairly small class sized (maybe 25 to 40 on average). I usually already know every student's writing style and topic preferences by the time it comes to marking anything major.

The desire for a student to remain anonymous in their work has occasionally come up, but it is rare.  With a major test or exam, I usually avoid knowing whose is whose to avoid unintentional bias. I usually marks question by question rather than exam by exam. (So everyone's answer to question 1 before moving onto question 2).

DISCLAIMER: This might have nothing to do with how things work at a Toronto law school. However, I highly suspect that each professor, or their TA,  is in charge of putting each students grades into an online database. Also, this database will probably have information on each student including full name, student number, email address, and so on. 

I have no idea what special policies to protect student anonymity might be in place at a Toronto law school.

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Due to the pandemic, all of our exams were online. The online portal with which you submit your exam on allows the prof to clearly tell who wrote what, as the portal is based on individual student accounts. So, not sure what it's like in the normal situation, but my exams this year were not anonymously marked.

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On 12/17/2020 at 10:42 AM, utmguy said:

I think I was the only person who handwrote my exams in law school so mine was definitely not anonymous!

How did you manage?

The average handwriting speed is like 15 WPM and professors generally do not want point form.

All of the students who tried handwriting their 1L midterms in my cohort ended up using laptops by the time the final came. Presumptively because they got murdered by the curve because all of their classmates could provide much more analysis than them.

 

____

Regarding OP's question

At the U of A we use Exam 4. We are given an anonymous exam ID and that's the only identifying information on the exam. The professors grade the exams, curve them, and then submit the curve for approval. After the curve is approved they receive the decoded marks and can see who received what grades.

Here's a Tweet from one of our professors from a few weeks back showing that professors can and do look at marks:

"I cannot fully express how delighted I was that year when the decoded marks revealed that she had the highest mark on the final. It doesn't always work out that way, but the effort, the willingness to change and go the distance - & the self-reflection itself, will serve you well."

The purpose of anonymous grading is to prevent bias in grading, not to prevent professors from knowing how their students performed.

I also received an email from a professor a year after I took a class with him. He was looking for a research assistant and sent out an email to everyone who did well in his classes to draw their attention to the position and encourage them to apply. So in certain circumstances professors may even look at your grades well after you are done with their classes.

 

Edited by Toad
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1 hour ago, Toad said:

How did you manage?

The average handwriting speed is like 15 WPM and professors generally do not want point form.

All of the students who tried handwriting their 1L midterms in my cohort ended up using laptops by the time the final came. Presumptively because they got murdered by the curve because all of their classmates could provide much more analysis than them.

Note taking was problematic and I ultimately largely relied on others' notes for my final exam.  

With respect to exam writing, I had only one exam where speed was remotely an issue on the final exam (securities).  Nobody in the class that I spoke with finished the exam (including myself), and I ended up with an A-.  

So overall, I didn't find it to be a hindrance.  Though who can say.  Maybe I would have gotten straight A's if I used a laptop throughout law school.

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2 hours ago, Toad said:

How did you manage?

The average handwriting speed is like 15 WPM and professors generally do not want point form.

All of the students who tried handwriting their 1L midterms in my cohort ended up using laptops by the time the final came. Presumptively because they got murdered by the curve because all of their classmates could provide much more analysis than them.

 

____

Regarding OP's question

At the U of A we use Exam 4. We are given an anonymous exam ID and that's the only identifying information on the exam. The professors grade the exams, curve them, and then submit the curve for approval. After the curve is approved they receive the decoded marks and can see who received what grades.

Here's a Tweet from one of our professors from a few weeks back showing that professors can and do look at marks:

"I cannot fully express how delighted I was that year when the decoded marks revealed that she had the highest mark on the final. It doesn't always work out that way, but the effort, the willingness to change and go the distance - & the self-reflection itself, will serve you well."

The purpose of anonymous grading is to prevent bias in grading, not to prevent professors from knowing how their students performed.

I also received an email from a professor a year after I took a class with him. He was looking for a research assistant and sent out an email to everyone who did well in his classes to draw their attention to the position and encourage them to apply. So in certain circumstances professors may even look at your grades well after you are done with their classes.

 

I found a lot of students who hand wrote exams even did better than laptop students (comparing the two groups). Presumably because they focused on the right issues and didn't verbatim copy analysis from all issues ever covered in class.

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2 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I found a lot of students who hand wrote exams even did better than laptop students (comparing the two groups). Presumably because they focused on the right issues and didn't verbatim copy analysis from all issues ever covered in class.

second this, a large portion of dean's listers in my law school wrote their exams by hands. According to some of them, it helps their thinking and analyzing process if they wrote by hands, and interesting enough, they all taken their class notes by hands too. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, criseaster55 said:

second this, a large portion of dean's listers in my law school wrote their exams by hands. According to some of them, it helps their thinking and analyzing process if they wrote by hands, and interesting enough, they all taken their class notes by hands too. 

 

 

Maybe things have changed since I wrote law school exams but this certainly wasn't the case back in the day. I didn't know anyone who wrote exams by hand, and the number who took notes by hand was infinitesimally small. Perhaps it varies school by school. It may also be a case of correlation and causation. 

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I've marked hand written and computer typed law school exams, didn't notice much difference in quality.

 

At UBC profs look at grades after the marking is finished.  The anonymity is during the process not after.

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The purpose of anonymous grading is to prevent bias in grading, not to prevent professors from knowing how their students performed.

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On 12/29/2020 at 11:11 AM, criseaster55 said:

second this, a large portion of dean's listers in my law school wrote their exams by hands. According to some of them, it helps their thinking and analyzing process if they wrote by hands, and interesting enough, they all taken their class notes by hands too. 

 

 

This is what the hand writers at UBC said as well. I simply don't understand it but it seems to work for them.

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