Failure? I think we'll pass

July 30, 1999

The tips on helping students who fail exams (Teaching, THES, July 9) coincided nicely with the ritual posting of pass lists, a widespread denial mechanism against the reality of failure. The advice was spot-on, especially about the emotional subtext that may sabotage judgements. Such warnings apply to work-based assessment where enforcing baseline standards can be even more problematic. Assessors need better support to cope with students performing at borderline and fail level. It is a risk-management strategy, protecting against appeals and educational malpractice.

Irene Ilott Group head: R&D, College of Occupational Therapists, London SE1

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