While Ivo Arnold is broadly right to argue that resits have limited impact on students’ subsequent performance, our recent research on behalf of the Northern Universities Consortium and the Standards and Classifications Working Group suggests that the picture is more nuanced (“Resits may not improve academic performance, says study”, News, 15 November). In our analysis of nearly 20,000 student results from nine UK universities, students who resat at least one Level 4 module before progressing to Level 5 of their degree were more likely to achieve a good honours degree than those students who were compensated for a proportion of Level 4 failure: 31 per cent compared with 27 per cent. Compensated students, however, were marginally more likely to complete their honours course within three years (30.9 per cent compared with 30.6 per cent for those who resat).
The significance of Arnold’s study and our work is, we feel, that those responsible for designing assessment strategies should base their decisions on the evidence that is available to them in their institutions, rather than relying on received wisdom.
Liverpool John Moores University
ex-University of Wolverhampton