Towards sustainable marking practices and improved quality of feedback in short-answer assessments
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Student dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of feedback received on their performance is a recurrent feature of student surveys (Scott, 2005; Williams & Kane, 2008). The study described here sets out to address this issue in a sustainable way, working within the context of the shortanswer assessment format. The primary aims of this study were to reduce the time needed to mark work and to improve the quality of feedback received by students, without recourse to the kind of automated approaches that lack the personal dimension of assessor judgment. To achieve this, a prototype marking software was developed during 2009, and a preliminary trial was conducted in 2010 with 25 students responding to a quiz comprising 25 questions. Online marking using this tool was completed in a third of the time taken to mark the work conventionally some 10 weeks previously. Further investigation revealed additional (and in some cases serendipitous) advantages relating to moderation and administrative efficiency, suggesting that rapid feedback can be provided without overloading academic staff with repetitive, time-consuming marking tasks. Ultimately, this project may aid in the development of a sustainable marking approach within the short-answer context to help address the important issue of timely student feedback.
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