Is it ethical for a lecturer to give all students in their class full marks for a module when they have not assessed the quality of the assessments?

In one class, students were told they would be marked on the quality of their assignments. However, the lecturer ended up giving the class marks based on whether they submitted the assessment or not. The marks for the individual assessments were not given. The lecturer admitted that the quality of the work was not assessed. (They didn't read through any of the submitted assessments)

This leads to my subsequent questions:

  1. In such a situation, should then the mark recieved by students be seen as credit for the assesment or credit for the submission thereof?

  2. What are the implications for the students when proceeding to the next year?

1 Answer 1


There is no ethical consideration regarding fairness to students as long as no one is disadvantaged by a change in grading. If grading is otherwise competitive in such a course, then it might cause a disadvantage for some, so it isn't correct to make an absolute statement. (And, FWIW, I consider competitive grading to be unethical in itself. That is, students should be graded on their own work, not that of others.)

One issue, however, is that students deserve feedback on their work independent of grades. If that didn't happen then there is a (possibly minor) ethical concern. But the feedback can come in several ways (questions, office hours, ...), so it, again, can't be determined precisely from what is said here.

However, unless there are some extenuating circumstances, the lecturer is failing in their obligations if they didn't look at the work. That is a separate ethical issue, though independent of the issue of fairness to students. But there are situations that arise in which the only fair result is to give everyone full marks or, possibly, omit the exercise from the grading scheme.

There should be no implications for future courses, provided that the students do, in fact, learn from the exercise, independent of assessment.

The question of how to consider it (your #1) is really just a matter of semantics.

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