One of the big issues for HE institutions is the fact that commercial EMA systems do not readily support institutional marking processes. Some of the institutions we talked to are pessimistic about ever achieving effective technology supported workflows because of the range of different marking processes adopted in different disciplines. Others have done some research in this area and believe that, whilst there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, the number of core marking processes is relatively small. Here is one suggestion that proposes that cross disciplinary marking processes fall into 5 main types. This analysis was undertaken by the University of Manchester Faculty of Humanities – it is believed to have university-wide applicability and a project is currently verifying this.
We invite your comments on how well these 5 models match actual practice in your institution (please note you need to click on this post and open it to see the comments box).
Moderation v second marking
The basic distinction is between moderation and second marking systems. In moderation systems, the moderator only examines only a sample of all the marked work and the moderator’s comments are not released to students. In second marking systems however, the students receive 2 sets of comments i.e. 2 different sets of feedback, two voices, and 2 grades. Also in second marking models both (1st and second marker) mark the whole cohort rather than a sample.
Having made this core distinction, the 5 marking models are:
- Moderation of multiple markers in large cohorts: Scenarios like large cohorts (e.g. 300 students) where a large amount of markers (normally Graduate teaching assistants) mark student work and 1 or more individuals (normally course director) moderate grades before students receive their feedback and grades. This moderation process is not visible to students, students simply receive a final grade and feedback.
- Moderation before feedback is released: Scenario where 1 first marker marks and a colleague (moderator) examines a sample of the marking carried out by the first marker. There is then a dialogue between 1st marker and moderator to reconcile potential grade discrepancies before student grades are released to student.
- Moderation after feedback release: This is the scenario for disciplines where students submit more than 1 or 2 pieces of coursework. In disciplines where there is a continuous assessment, moderation does not occur on every single submission but at the end of the semester. Moderation takes place in first, fails and borderline cases in final average cumulative values. As any moderation model, student only hears 1 feedback voice and moderation dialogue takes place outside of student view.
Second marking models
- Standard second marking model: 2 individuals mark the same cohort and may discuss and reconcile feedback or grades before releasing grades to students.
- Blind second marking: 2 individuals are involved in marking the same cohort but they do so blind to each other’s marking. This is normally applied to dissertations where normally supervisor marks the work of a student she/he has supervised.