3 Other issues in assessment

3.1 Marking

For a brief discussion of issues related to marking, see Yorke et al. (2000) and Brown (2001).

Issues relating to marking assessments

  • Different modules and departments clearly allocate marks over different ranges – some mark between 40 and 70 per cent, others across the full range. How is it possible to aggregate and compare marks in these circumstances? There are many ways of dealing with this problem, such as normalisation of scores.
  • Double-blind marking doubles the assessment load and studies have shown that it is no more reliable than single marking and moderating of borderline cases and samples of each grade.
  • The aim of moderation is to check the consistency of the marker(s), not to remark

3.2 Feedback

The purpose of feedback is to give information to students regarding their strengths and weaknesses in the areas covered by the formative assessments. It is also an opportunity to justify the mark/grade awarded.

Issues relating to feedback to students

  • Feedback is exceptionally useful where a piece of work is still ongoing and students submit drafts/consult with assessors at stages in the process.
  • To be effective, feedback needs to recognise positive aspects of the work and not only its shortcomings.

3.3 Plagiarism

This is a huge and increasingly worrying issue for assessors, given in particular the ever-increasing use of the internet as a learning resource. Even under strict invigilation conditions, it is not impossible for students to give and receive ‘answers’ to questions in computer-based examinations.

Issues relating to plagiarism

  • Poor assessment practice invites plagiarism.
  • Choose activities and assessment methods that limit possibilities for plagiarism (some of these have been discussed already).

3.4 Assessment and large groups

Rust (2001) contains an extensive review of issues related to assessment of large groups. The concern is that the ever-decreasing staff–student ratios are likely to reduce the quality of assessment and the amount of formative assessment, thereby reducing the amount and quality of feedback that a student can obtain about his/her strengths and areas that need further work.

Issues relating to large group assessment

  • Use computer-aided marking where appropriate.
  • Change exam regulations and rubric – for example, shorter exams, lower word limits, moderation versus second marking.
  • Consider making a desired but non-assessed piece of work a course requirement for sitting the exam.
  • Do not accept late submissions.