Rules of the Game questionnaire
This questionnaire was originally designed for psychology students to ascertain to what extent certain myths and folklore existed around what they thought tutors would give marks for in their essays. We called these strategies ‘rules of the game’ (Norton, Dickins & McLaughlin Cook, 1996a,b). By this term we meant tactics that students believed would influence their tutor to give them higher marks than their essay deserved (either by flattering them or by trying to mislead them). ROGs were not explicit strategies or criteria that tutors had expressly promoted. What we found were that use of these tactics was widespread, and not confined to one subject (i.e. Psychology) or to one institution. We also found that use of ROGs was closely related to cheating behaviours and to a fear of failure (Norton, Tilley, Newstead & Franklyn-Stokes, 2001).
Using the Questionnaire
As well as being a research instrument, this questionnaire works very well in sessions with students aimed at helping them to understand the assessment system and the importance of assessment criteria.
Responses score 1 for ‘Yes’ and 0 for ‘No’ giving a possible maximum overall score of 25 and a minimum overall score of 0. The higher the score the more likely it is that the student needs guidance on the explicit assessment criteria that tutors use when marking their essays.
Norton, L. S., Dickins, T. E. & McLaughlin Cook, A. N. (1996a) Rules of the Game in essay writing, Psychology Teaching Review, 5, 1, 1–14.
Norton, L. S., Dickins, T. E. & McLaughlin Cook, N. (1996b) Coursework assessment: what are lecturers really looking for? in: G. Gibbs. (Ed.) Improving Student Learning. Using Research to Improve Student Learning ,Oxford: The Oxford Centre for Staff Development.
Norton, L.S., Tilley, A.J., Newstead, S.E. & Franklyn-Stokes, A.. (2001) The pressures of assessment in undergraduate courses and their effect on student behaviours. Assessment & evaluation in Higher Education, 26, 3, 269-284.
Rules of the Game
In this questionnaire there are listed a number of ‘tactics’ that undergraduates have been known to adopt in the past in the belief that it may favourably influence their tutor when s/he is marking their essays. These tactics have been called ‘Rules of the Game’.
Please read each statement carefully and indicate by circling either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, whether you have ever (meaning at least once) used any of these tactics.
|Item||As an undergraduate have you ever:||Yes||No|
|1||Chosen the easiest title to give you a good chance of getting a high mark?||Yes||No|
|2||Tried to include information not covered in the lectures/obscure references?||Yes||No|
|3||Used up to date/interesting references/lots of references/contradictory references in your essay?||Yes||No|
|4||Played the role of a good student?||Yes||No|
|5||Used big words/technical terms/jargon to impress your tutor?||Yes||No|
|6||Wrote a lot/wrote big/made the essay look longer/exceeded word limit?||Yes||No|
|7||Presented a false bibliography?||Yes||No|
|8||Tried to reflect your tutor’s opinions/views/style as closely as possible?||Yes||No|
|9||Made your essay visually exciting?||Yes||No|
|10||Put your greatest effort into getting a high mark for the first submitted essay in a course?||Yes||No|
|11||Asked tutor for help so s/he will approve of you and think you are a keen student?||Yes||No|
|12||When feeling confident, argued a position regardless of your tutor’s views in order to appear insightful/clever etc?||Yes||No|
|13||Avoided criticising your marker’s views and/or research in the essay?||Yes||No|
|14||Avoided putting simple/basic textbooks in the bibliography even though you have used them?||Yes||No|
|15||Acted extra ‘nice’/asked for sympathy to get an extension for your essay?||Yes||No|
|16||Chosen an essay title nearest to the tutor’s subject or research area?||Yes||No|
|17||Put a theorist’s name against your own point/criticism/comment to make it look erudite?||Yes||No|
|18||Avoided writing anything controversial in the essay?||Yes||No|
|19||Found out who would mark the essays so that you could choose the title set by the easiest marker, or the tutor you get on best with?||Yes||No|
|20||Invented studies/research/articles to include in the essay?||Yes||No|
|21||Handed the essay in before the deadline to create the impression that the assignment was mastered without difficulty/to show eagerness?||Yes||No|
|22||Chosen an unpopular essay title so that your answer is distinctive?||Yes||No|
|23||Chosen a difficult title in the hope of being given extra credit?||Yes||No|
|24||Got to know the tutors socially in order to favourably influence them?||Yes||No|
|25.||Changed dates of old research to make it look like up to date research?||Yes||No|