Unmarked assignments?

Yesterday was a busy day! After the STACK webinar I jumped in my car and drove to Milton Keynes to speak at an OU meeting about assessment, this run for and by the Childhood, Youth and Education Programme. This was somewhat nerve-wracking – these guys are experts in things educational.

For me, the highlight of the day was listening to the guest speaker, Graham Gibbs, whose work I am sure that most people reading this Blog will know. I worked with Graham on the FAST Project (well that might be stretching a point a bit – I was a very junior player) and it was lovely to see him again. Graham’s title was ‘How assessment supports student learning, how assessment is changing in UK universities and how assessment at the OU might change.’ Much of what he said was familiar, but that doesn’t make it any less important. If we’d all heard it before and acted on it, perhaps we wouldn’t still have an ‘assessment problem’.

I absolutely agree with some of the things Graham suggested, in particular that we should use more oral feedback and plan a progression of assessment across modules and programmes.  In the OU context, I am still uneasy about the use of  unmarked assignments. When we talk about formative thresholded assessment in the Science Faculty, we are still giving marks as an indicator of progress. However I do agree that it might be a good idea to separate the formative and the summative and, in particular, to alter our culture so that students can submit early drafts of projects for (formative) feedback before they are resubmitted for (summative) marks.

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