Anonymous examination marking at University of Cape Town: The quest for an `agonising-free zone'

  • S Shay
  • B Jones


In 2003 the University of Cape Town introduced an anonymous examination policy. This article reports on a study of the impact of the implementation of this policy on student performance. Comparisons of student results pre- and post policy implementation showed no evidence of negative or positive discrimination of students in the examination marking. Interviews with course conveners suggested however, that, irrespective of the policy, markers infer student identity from examinations and that these inferences can influence their assessment. The most commonly cited example was `sympathetic marking', that is, assessors marking more generously if they infer a student to be educationally under-prepared. The article concludes that the implementation of this policy has had a limited impact on strengthening the validity of assessment results, but is likely to be retained given both staff and students' perceptions that the policy `objectifies' the marking process.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20(4) 2006: pp.528-546

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eISSN: 1011-3487