More debate needed on marking 2

November 2, 2007

Sue Bloxham does well to remind us that summative assessment procedures are unreliable. This gets glossed over by the cryptic manner in which assessment is reported. If we ask for a vehicle report on a used car we get more information after an hour's inspection than when hiring a graduate after three years of higher education.

One or two words ("first", "upper second", etc) convey nothing meaningful about the unique abilities, attainments and qualities of a student. Nor would adding a few grades or percentages tell us what students can actually do or not do, let alone whether they might suit our needs.

Is any university currently trying the alternative idea of summarising students' academic careers not with labels but with profiles (giving details of courses taken and teachers' written appraisals of students' attainment of learning outcomes)?

Derek Rowntree, Oxfordshire.

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