Ensuring Objectivity: A Proposal by the Alma Mater Society to Remove Student Names from Final Examinations

Prepared by Academic Caucus:

Christopher J. Hencerson, AMS Commissioner (Academic Affairs), Chair

Hartley Lefton, AMS Deputy Commission (Academic Affairs), Assistant to the Chair
Lauren Capstick, PHESA Junior Academics Rep.
Lauren Dizon, CESA Academics Rep.
Jim Elson, ENGSOC Vice-President (Student Development)
Doug Glynn, COMSOC Education Commissioner
Malanine Jung, REHABSOC Academics Commissioner
Chris Martin, PHESA Senior Academics Rep.
Rachel Patel, NSS Academics Rep.
Rick Stratton, ASUS Academic Commissioner

Ratified by the Assembly of the Alma Mater Society on March 9, 2001.


Executive Summary and Recommendations

It is the concern of the AMS that professors in the course of marking examination papers, no matter how well-intentioned or cautious, may be sub-consciously influenced by associating a student's name on an examination paper with their interaction with that particular student during the term, either positively or negatively. As such, it has not been our intention to create a system that makes all possibility of altering student marks impossible, since the deliberate distortion of marks is not a concern.

...Some faculty members have objected to the elimination of student names from examination papers, based of a practice of adjusting grades upwards to reflect specific progress, or increased student understanding on specific subject areas of the course...the specific proposal of the Alma Mater Society to not in any way detract from a professor's ability to do so (See Proposal). Rather, it ensures that such adjustments are being made consciously and with deliberation by the faculty member, which facilitates greater transparency. This is contrasted with the existing system, in which such mark adjustments may be made subconsciously and subjectively as the faculty member grades the paper.

The "Final Report of the Principal's Advisory Committee on Race Relations" (1991) recommends "6.A.8 [the] elimination of the possibility of racial bias in marking, for example, by using student numbers on examination." At the time of the first examination of this issue at SCAP, it was noted that such a proposal was supported by then Dean of Women. (See SCAP Minutes, 1993)

The AMS recommends the following:

  • That the use of student numbers, rather than names, be mandated for final examinations only.

  • That the use of current examination booklets be phased-out, rather than eliminated altogether, so as to pose no financial burden on the university to replace existing examination booklets.

  • That during this "phase-out" period, students be encouraged to only write their student number, but that the accidental inclusion of a student name in no way disqualifies their examination.

  • That the professor be responsible for transcribing the mark from the anonymous examination paper to a class list which contains both student number and student name.