More on Assessment
Since publishing the marks from the November Assessment Exercise last week there has been a lively debate about how the marks are determined and what they mean. So here is a quick refresher post:
How marks are determined
Assessors are appointed from within the OCA network of tutors and curriculum leaders. All assessment submissions are viewed by two assessors. The first sets marks against the assessment criteria and writes feedback against each of the criteria and overall ‘feedforward’- comments giving advice on future study. The second assessor then reviews the submission and the first assessor’s marking. If there is a disagreement about any aspect of the marking there will be a moderating discussion and the mark can be changed. Changes at this point are relatively common.
On the final day of an assessment exercise all of fails are reviewed by the full group of assessors – this could be a group of six assessors and if there are disagreements the assessors will determine whether the mark should change. Changes at this point are somewhat less common.
Once the assessment exercise is complete from the OCA’s perspective, UCA send their internal verifiers (ie their subject specialist staff) and their external examiners (ie subject specialist staff from other universities appointed to give an independent view on the process)to consider the work and the marks and feedback proposed. The verifiers and external examiners do not meet the assessors and work independently from them. They do not see all of the work submitted, but samples from every course, all of the level 3 work and all fails.
Finally UCA convene an Exam Board which they chair and which is attended by the OCA Director of Assessment and Registrar, Curriculum Leaders, the UCA internal verifiers and the external examiners. This board considers any issues arising from the assessment and can change individual marks, marks for an entire course and can ask to have a submission reassessed. Changes at this point at relatively infrequent.
What do marks mean?
A key feature of the OCA model is that the marks at levels 1 and 2 do not count towards the final degree class. They are an indication to the student of where their work sits, but at this stage we would like to students to focus their attention on the feedback. At level 3 the final degree class is determined by a straight average of the marks attained for each level 3 course – so a student getting 54 and 67 will have an average of 60.5 and graduate with an upper second class degree.
The table above gives the distribution of the marks confirmed by the Exam Board for the November Assessment Exercise. One important note on the interpretation of this table; it is a distribution of the marks gained by courses. Since students may submit multiple courses to the same Assessment Exercise, this distribution is not the same as the distribution of marks by student. In this case, more than 50% of the 13 fails are accounted for by three students who submitted a total of 7 course.