A tale of 2 markers

Marking is hard, and ultimately subjective. Of course, it’s easy when the student is at either end of the quality spectrum, but the responses around the middle are notoriously difficult for markers to achieve consensus. As I mentioned in the last post, the implications for some students of inaccurate marking can be enormous, potentially life-changing in fact, so what can be done?

Unless your institution is using comparative judgement (more on this in another post), the only real chance of moving closer to fairness for students in the marking process is to establish a dedicated moderation session before marking begins. Whoever is involved in the marking of student work for a particular assessment MUST get together and establish a common frame and standard from which they all stem their understanding from, and they MUST practise grading several samples together for the lead marker to have any sort of confidence that the marking is going to be as fair as possible. This standard is taken from the rubric, and therefore highlights how important it is to work hard on creating a strong rubric at the time of designing the assessment.

If moderation doesn’t take place, students are at the mercy of the quality of the rubric and their marker’s interpretation of it. In a large course with major assessment being marked by more than one marker, if a particular marker has a particular interpretation of the criteria in the rubric or even a particular philosophy of marking (e.g. excessively strict or excessively liberal with the rubric), then the validity of the assessment results is in serious jeopardy.

I’m Paul Moss. I’m a learning designer at the University of Adelaide. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger

Cover image: Perspective…. (theothersideoftheequation.com)

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