What universities might learn from professional associations in marking large undergraduate modules

Date02 July 2018
Publication Date02 July 2018
AuthorCarl Evans,John Gardener
SubjectEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
What universities might
learn from professional
associations in marking large
undergraduate modules
Carl Evans
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, and
John Gardener
Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK
Purpose The purpose of thispaper is to highlight to universities the approach of professionalassociations
in marking largevolumes of assessments.
Design/methodology/approach The issues arising in marking large undergraduate modules in
universitiesare discussed, before describing the approachtypically adopted by professionalassociations. The
benet foruniversities of adopting such an approachis then examined.
Findings The key to marking large volumes for professional associations lies in the initial standardisation
meeting, on-going discussions between markers and an ability to check and if necessary stop the marking
process at several points in the marking cycle, until agreement and consistency between markers are achieved.
Research limitations/implications This viewpoint paper is based on the experiences of the two
authors in assessingprofessional business management associations,and not empirical research.
Practical implications The approach described here to marking large volumes of undergraduate
assessmentsoffers a practical solution to the prevailing issuesconcerning consistency across teaching teams.
Originality/value The applicationof the approach of professional associations to the issuessurrounding
markinglarge undergraduate modules offers a uniqueproposition for university staff to consider.
Keywords Professional associations, Higher education, Assessment
Paper type Viewpoint
Mass higher education
While the growth in students applying for degree programmes at UK universities has
recently slowed down (Havergal, 2015), the numbers registered to undergraduate-level
studies in the UK have increased from 1,541,225 in 2000/01 to 1,747,855 in 2015/16 (www.
hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students). This growth in higher education (Mayhew et al.,
2004;Scott, 2005;Smith, 2006) has resulted in some large class sizes (Bandiera et al.,2010)
especially in rst-year undergraduate programmes, although there is some evidence to
suggest that this scenariois marginally improving(Guardian, 2015).
Current issues with marking assessments
Nonetheless, not only do large class sizes create problems for learning and teaching
(Mulryan-Kyne, 2010),issues surrounding assessments especially quality of feedback(Nicol,
2010) and ensuring reliability and consistency in marking (OHagan and Wigglesworth,
2015) remain perennial concerns.It would be logical to assume that the progression to mass
Received18 May 2017
Revised10 February 2018
Accepted3 May 2018
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.26 No. 3, 2018
pp. 343-348
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-05-2017-0018
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