Objective metrics on a subject issue

This is the first time I take a non-technical online course — Conditions of War and Peace by Kiichi Fujiwara of Tokyo University.
It is always intriguing to see what a Japanese lecturer has to say on the topic of war and peace (well, mainly for the duality of pacifism expression of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and the reality of SDF), but this is not the point of this article.

One major feature of the humanities course is the essay assignment. I usually regard grading an essay to be a rather subjective task, which is hard to quantize and objectify. Furthermore, in online course the grading is done by peer review, which only adds to its difficulty.

Following the course, I finished the mid-term essay (the assigned topic of which is the case of lack of hegemonic war when a great power could militarily challenge the hegemon, and the possible reasons), and started peer reviewing the assignments submitted by other attendants. This was the time that I really feeling amazed on the rubric evaluation guideline.

The guideline in essence summarizes the facades of approach towards this particular topic. As one with science and engineering background, I could only admire the completeness and objectiveness of the metrics.

The take-home message is that, even for a quite subjective issue, there still could exist some measurement to at least partially measure it, objectively. And the quality of the measurement more or less embodies one’s knowledge on the underlying subject.

 

Appendix:

As example, I list a few of the metrics here.

On the choice of case, it states:

The choice of cases will be weighted by the powers involved, as follows:

Plus 3 points:
(a) Global powers, emerging powers, and historically global powers:
United States, United Kingdom, Russia – Soviet Union, France, Germany, Japan, China, India, Italy – Rome (historical), Spain (historical), Portugal (historical), Netherlands (historical)

Plus 1 point:
(b) Other powers

On the reasoning, it states:

Concepts used in establishing the case will be weighted as follows:

Plus 3 points:
(a)
Diplomacy
Common or shared threat
Confidence building / conflict management
Economic interdependence / trade relations
Common values / common religion /regime-types / democracy

Plus 2 points:
(b) All other concepts

Summary
6 points: Two or more than two concepts from group (a) are used in establishing the case.
5 points: Two or more than two concepts are used in establishing the case, but only one concept from group (a) is included.
4 points: Two or more than two concepts are used in establishing the case, but no concept from group (a) is included.
3 points: One concept from group (a) is used in establishing the case.
2 points: One concept, which is not in group (a), is used in establishing the case.
0 point: No concept is used in establishing the case.

 

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