A return to marking hell?

About a year ago, I published this post about trying to avoid marking hell. I said I would try to design assignments so that:

  1. Students feel proud of what they’ve done when they submit the task
  2. I look forward to marking the submissions
  3. Submissions are manageable to mark and moderate
  4. The contribution of the task to the overall aims and objectives of the course is clear to students, colleagues and external reviewers
  5. Someone else could run the assessment task easily if I fall under the proverbial bus

Manifestos are all very well, but have I stuck to it? Since then, I’ve had to redesign all of the units (modules) I teach as part of a review, so I can’t say I haven’t had the opportunity. The first major deadline since then was yesterday. I have had a quick look at the submissions, though I haven’t yet marked them.

I’ll have to ask the participants about the first one on the list, although from my quick look, I hope that they do feel proud of what’s been done.

Number 2: I AM looking forward to the marking – well OK, does anyone ever look forward to grading? – but definitely to reading/watching/listening to the submissions. I think number 4 is definitely achieved.

The submissions are sort of manageable, but they aren’t scaleable, because I gave a free choice of style and format. We’ve had: 1 face to face presentation, 1 DVD, 1YouTube video, 1 set of bound booklets, 2 Powerpoints with audio narration, and the rest as PDFs but in very different styles. I think I know what’s going on, but I am pretty sure the moderator is going to have to watch his language when I try to explain it.

Which brings me to number 5. I haven’t documented this very well, so if I do fall under a bus, nobody will have a clue what’s going on. Must do better next time.

I’ll get some proper feedback from participants about the experience. The offer of choice was definitely difficult for most people and I did answer a lot of questions about it (‘do what you like’ wasn’t enough of a steer!) but part of the aim of the assignment was to get people to think about what kinds of things demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes, so I think it was important.

Did I say that the assignments are on ‘Assessment in Higher Education’, which does add another layer of complexity to any analysis?

And no, of course I didn’t write this to distract me from getting on with the marking. I’m looking forward to it!

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