A search for style 1

August 2, 2002

In response to Roger Lindsay (Letters, THES , July 26), we acknowledge that a marker's subject expertise might well be expected to affect assessment. However, in our study we found little evidence to suggest that marker expertise affected the grades awarded.

The strong emphasis on "style" as a feature of "good" essay writing emerged in response to a general question about what markers are typically looking for, and not just in response to the marking exercise itself.

While marking in many institutions is rigorous and carried out in accordance with clear criteria, we found evidence of discrepancies across as well as within institutions. Though we do not know what the impact of external moderation would be, these results suggest that students may be treated differently in different institutions. This is unfair.

These issues have been addressed in our work, which is under review for publication. We would be happy to send drafts of our papers to readers.

Jocelyn Robson
University of Surrey
Becky Francis and Barbara Read
University of North London

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