Accountability in grading: the provenance of standards in a 21st century quality assurance context

Bloxham, Susan, Boyd, Pete and Orr, Susan (2010) Accountability in grading: the provenance of standards in a 21st century quality assurance context. In: Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) Annual Conference, 14-16 December 2010, Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales.

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Abstract

The massification of higher education has witnessed several decades of increasing regulation and accountability regarding academic standards, for example through the ‘Academic Infrastructure’ managed by the Quality Assurance Agency in the UK and similar approaches in other higher education systems. In relation to assessment, concerns about standards have expressed themselves in debates about grade inflation, parity of standards across Universities and weaknesses in the systems of degree classification and external examining (UK). The National Student Survey (NSS) in the UK has also heightened institutional anxiety about assessment and feedback. At the heart of these discussions on standards lies the act of grading student work; the professional judgement which embodies our sense of academic standards. Efforts have been made to codify this judgement through artefacts such as institutional or departmental rubrics for marking (grade descriptors) yet the efficacy of these tools to represent the academic ‘wisdom’ used in grading has yet to be demonstrated. This paper reports on a study of academics’ sense of standards as enacted through marking practices. It explores their understanding of academic standards and the roots of their personal frameworks for judgement. It also investigates tutors’ sense of accountability for their grading judgements, their use of artefacts (e.g. rubrics) and their attitude to cross tutor and external moderation of their grading including issues of objectivity and subjectivity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title: n/a
Departments: Services > The Graduate School
Pre 2016 Departments: Faculty of Education, Arts and Business > Postgraduate Programmes and Partnership > Continuing Professional Development > Educational Research
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2012 14:27
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2017 14:31
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1379

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