Be fair or be flexible 1

November 9, 2007

Take a look at the web home pages of a few US academics and you will see they typically offer a more varied and interesting set of assessments than is the case in the UK ("Inherently frail - the verdict on marking", October 26). This is possible because Americans are not burdened with the extra duties of double marking and external examination.

As I understand it, US instructors are trusted with a greater responsibility for setting the type of assessments they wish to and do not have to jump through the same bureaucratic hoops that we do should we wish to make alterations to our assessment methods. The British assessment system is more concerned with ensuring that assessment loads are roughly equivalent between modules and between courses, and that marking is accurate and fair. Although well intentioned, the bureaucracy required to regulate and monitor assessments also stifles flexibility and innovation.

David Hardman, Department of psychology, London Metropolitan University.

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