Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Fairer marking: a way forward

Northumbria Students Union is undergoing a bid for fairer marking.

The anonymous marking campaign was introduced to allow students to submit work for marking without their name so the result received depends on how well done the work is. This is to prevent preconceived ideas about the ability of the student affecting the grades they receive. Instead of handing work in with a name, the student would give their student number, unknown to staff.

The pros are that it would remove any potential bias that lecturers may have or any feelings of bias that students have about lecturers.

The campaign was first introduced in March of last year, as an election bid for Adam White, now one of the Union’s vice presidents. Starting in July, it is already en route to success.

Five of the nine schools at Northumbria University have agreed to the scheme which was launched by the union in July of last year. Two schools, Law and Sports Psychology are already familiar with using anonymous marking, having used the system themselves for over ten years. The law school in particular is bound by legislation to use this system. Having been successful, it was decided to begin a campaign to introduce it to the other schools.

Schools like Arts and Social Sciences offer students workshop style seminars to discuss work produced and help point them in the right direction. Obviously work done this way may not be as affected by the move. White said of this barrier; “Initially [it] was looking to introduce for only written assessment ... in terms of workshops it isn’t possible to completely mark anonymously and that’s not what we’re asking for.”

The aim is to continue with workshops and have an external examiner mark the work.

The move follows several other universities who have already introduced the scheme to much success. Leeds University ran the same campaign in 2006 and found the grades of female students went up by 15%.

White added, “I think the campaign across the country has always been successful and I think it will be here at Northumbria as well.”

To find out more click onto the Northumbria Student's Union website or pick up a postcard from the union.

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