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11. It can be useful to work out a tight marking scheme for yourself. Imagine that you are going to delegate the marking to a new colleague. Write it all down. You will  nd such schemes an invaluable aid to share with future classes of students, as well as colleagues actually co-marking with you, helping them to see how assessment works. External examiners will also  nd this helpful in understanding and reviewing the marking process.
12. It’s worth proof-reading your exam questions carefully.
Be aware of the danger of seeing what you meant, rather than what you actually wrote! Even if you’re very busy when asked to check your questions, a little extra time spent editing your questions at this time may save you many hours sorting out how to handle matters arising from any ambiguities or errors which could have otherwise slipped through the proof-reading process.
DESIGNING MARKING SCHEMES
Whether you’re assessing exam answers or students’ assignments, the time spent designing a good marking scheme can save you hours when it comes to marking a pile of scripts, or a batch of assignments submitted online. It can also help you to know (and show) that you are doing everything possible to be uniformly fair to all students. As your marking schemes should normally be shown to people including external examiners and quality reviewers, it’s important to design schemes in the  rst place so that they will stand up to such scrutiny. The following suggestions should help:
1. Try writing a model answer or key notes for each question, if the subject matter permits. This can be
a useful  rst-step towards identifying the mark-bearing ingredients of a good answer. It also helps you see when what you thought was going to be a 30-minute question turns out to take an hour! If you have dif culties answering the questions, the chances are that your students will
too! Making model answers and marking schemes for coursework assignments can give you good practice for writing exam schemes.
2. See if you can make each assessment judgement as straightforward as possible. Try to allocate each mark so that it is associated with something that is either present or absent, or right or wrong, in students’ answers, or on a readily recognisable scale for each criterion e.g.
5 points: Outstanding, couldn’t really have hoped for or expected more,
4 points: Very good, answers the question well but could have gone further in places,
3 Points: Good, main areas covered reasonably well, but some omissions,  aws, etc. 2 Points: Just good enough, many gaps but enough to merit a bare pass,
1 Point: Not good enough, some valuable elements but many omissions and  aws,
O Points: Absent, nothing in the answer that matches the criterion.
3. Strive to achieve good reliability of marking. Aim to make it so that anyone can mark given answers, and agree on the scores within a mark or two. It is best to involve colleagues
in your piloting of  rst-draft marking schemes. They will soon help you to identify areas where the marking criteria may need clarifying or tightening up.
4. Plan ahead concerning ‘consequential’ marks. For example, when a candidate makes an early mistake in a mathematical problem, but then proceeds correctly thereafter
(especially in problems and calculations), allow for some marks to be given for the ensuing correct steps even when the  nal answer is quite wrong.
5. Pilot your marking scheme by showing it to others. It’s worth even showing marking schemes to people who are not closely associated with your subject area. If they can’t see exactly what you’re looking for, it may be that the scheme is not yet suf ciently self-explanatory. Extra detail you add at this stage may help you to clarify your own thinking, and will certainly assist any fellow markers.
6. Learn by looking at what others have done in the past.
If it’s your  rst time writing a marking scheme, looking at
other people’s ways of doing them will help you to focus
your efforts. Choose to look at marking schemes from other subjects that your students may be studying, to help you tune in to the assessment culture of the overall programme.
7. Be ready to learn from your own mistakes. We all make them - even when very experienced at marking. No marking scheme is perfect. When you start applying it to a pile of scripts or batch of online submissions, you will soon want to start adjusting it. Keep a note of any dif culties you experience in adhering to your scheme, and take account of these next time you have to make a marking scheme.
8. Be very careful about keeping summative assessed tasks secure: Never leave paper versions lying around and make sure electronic versions you share only go to trusted colleagues/reviewers. Refer to your School’s processes on assessment security.
ASSESSING STUDENTS’ EXAM ANSWERS AND SUMMATIVE ASSIGNMENTS
Particularly when you’re under pressure to assess a lot of exam scripts, or students’ assignments in a short time, the following suggestions may help you to do so fairly and ef ciently.
1. Try to remain realistic about what you can do. Put work for assessing into manageable amounts. For example, it is less intimidating to have ten scripts on your desk and the rest out of sight than to have a large pile threatening you as you work.
2. Think about how best to tackle the assessment load.
You may prefer to assess a whole script at a time, or just Question 1 of every script  rst. The advantage with correcting all the Question 1’s  rst is that you just have to keep the marking scheme for that question in mind. After a few questions you will probably have that scheme memorised which makes the marking process a bit more ef cient. It will also enhance our marking consistency as it is easier to recall how we have previously marked that same question. Do what you feel comfortable with, and see what works best for you.
3. Don’t try to assess for unrealistic periods without a break. Research suggests you are likely to compromise your intra-assessor reliability if you do so, so stop every hour to look out of the window or walk round the room, stop at least every three hours for a proper break of at least 30 minutes, ideally leaving the marking room altogether, and don’t expect to do more than eight hours at a stretch.
4. Remain aware of the danger of halo effects. If you’ve
just assessed a brilliant answer, it can be easy to go into the same student’s next answer seeing only the good points and passing over the weaknesses. If assessment isn’t anonymous, it’s always easy to think, “This isn’t as good (or bad) as his/ her normal work so I must be marking it wrong”. Try to ensure that you assess each answer dispassionately and objectively. Conversely, when you look at the next student’s answer, you may be overly-critical if you’ve just assessed a brilliant one.
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