More about Sally

Sally JordanI work for the UK Open University and since August 2016 I have been Head of the School of Physical Sciences. Before that I was a Head of Department and the Science Faculty’s Deputy Associate Dean with responsibility for Assessment. My substantive post is as Professor of Physics Education and a Staff Tutor in Science, with responsibility for the running of various science modules. I work with eSTEeM and the OpenScience Laboratory to evaluate and improve our assessment practice, and I am on the organising committee for the  Assessment in Higher Education Conference (next conference to be held in June 2019).

I first got involved in e-assessment when I chaired the production of  S151 : Maths for science, which was presented for the first time back in 2002 and which has been studied by more than 12,000 people since. I have chaired S151 off and on since 2002, and the new edition of the book on which it is based, Maths for Science, was co-published with Oxford University Press.

The idea for S151 came from Mike Tinker, who worked at the University of Reading and was an OU associate lecturer (tutor). Sadly, Mike died in 2006. I picked up the idea from Mike and wrote the course with Shelagh Ross and Pat Murphy and it reflects my great interest helping students to cope with the maths they need in order to study physics and other science courses. We also wanted to be able to give our students instantaneous feedback – so we decided to use interactive online assessment. This was ground-breaking work at the time, and would not have been possible without the help of many others, especially Phil Butcher.

More recently I was a member of the teams producing S104 : Exploring Science (presented for the first time in Feb 2008),  S154 : Science Starts Here (presented for the first time in October 2007) and S141 : Investigative and mathematical skills in science (presented for the first time in October 2012). I had responsibility for the development of maths skills in these modules and for the integration of interactive computer marked assignments (iCMAs) with more conventional tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and I went on to chair each of those modules (S104 then S154 then S141). S154 won all sorts of prizes and accolades and was loved by its students and tutors – but as a 10-credit module it didn’t fit with the new English funding regime so it was discontinued in 2012; I think there is still work to be done in using diagnostic tests (online of course!) to direct students who would benefit from that sort of little module and then back to the mainstream.

I was also a member of the team producing MST224 Mathematical methods (first presentation October 2013). I used the computer-algebra based STACK question type in Moodle to write iCMA questions for this module – great fun!

From 2006 to 2010, I was lucky enough to hold teaching fellowships in two of the OU’s Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning: piCETL (the Physics Innovations Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) and COLMSCT (the Centre for Open Learning in Mathematics, Science, Computing and Technology). My various COLMSCT and piCETL projects reflected my interests in eAssessment and science students’ mathematical misconceptions.

In 2006 I was awarded an Open University Teaching Award for my work in developing S151: Maths for Science and its interactive online assessment system. I was one of the OU’s nominees for a National Teaching Fellowship in 2010 and 2011. I have recently (September 2014) completed a PhD by published work which shares the title of this blog: “E-assessment for learning? Exploring the potential of computer-marked assessment and computer-generated feedback, from short-answer questions to assessment analytics.”

I have tutored various science and maths modules and have taken a few OU courses as a student. I live in West Norfolk with my husband, though I rent Monday-Friday accommodation near Milton Keynes; my children are both ‘grown and flown’.  My hobbies include walking long-distance footpaths and writing about this (see and singing in a local choir.

For more information about my publications go to Open Research Online (

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