If we’re all being totally honest, degree classifications are probably as much a case of luck, as they are hard work. Marking is afterall in many cases very subjective. What i think are sailiant points may differ from my colleagues. My tastes and ideas also differ which is partly why research is able to fourish, the arts are able to entertain and why some comedians that I think are awful, continure to draw large crouds.
I wonder has anyone studied the affect of a markers mood on grade profiles. When your in the pits of despair personally, and blue skies continue to look grey, it is hard to believe that you could possibly fully appreciate the positives in a piece of work, actively searching to award marks, rather than searching for reasons to deduct them.
i suspect my grade awards differ somewhere in the region of 5-8 % based solely on the mood I’m in. Indeed I’ve chatted with colleagues, and I am not alone. Sure we use rubrics, set fairly clear expectations and recruit moderators to check for discrepencies, but what if they’re also in a bad mood. Bad moods are common place amongst academics. Pressures from above to be more available to students, do more research, teach like a boss, mark in ridicuoulsly short timeframes, stay abreast of current innovations, answer hundreds of emails, do everything we can to keep students happy, bring grades up, no bring grades down and do it all with a smile and enthuasiasm under a mountain of admin.
We are not alone, I know.