Enhancing the Assessment Literacy of Distance Learning Students: A Case Study


Actively engaging students with mark schemes has been shown to improve their subsequent assessment performance. However, such activities rely on a degree of tactic knowledge transfer which can be difficult for large cohorts or distance learning students. This case study considers whether online discussion around a generic task can help distance learners improve their assessment literacy. Distance learning students engaged in a task to design their own mark scheme and use it to mark a series of ‘mock papers’ designed to mimic a range of common marking situations e.g. fail, including irrelevant material, plagiarism. The marks of the first essay these students subsequently undertook did not significantly differ irrespective of whether they had participated in this task. However, the range of marks obtained by those that did not engage in the task was significantly more variable that by those who had engaged (F-variance test, p=0.0003), suggesting the task may help to bring consistency to the performance and expectations of students from a range of academic background. The views of students on this task were positive with three quarters agreeing that it had improved their understanding of mark schemes and over 60% (63%) confirming it would help them to grade their own work in the future. This case study illustrates that interactive campus-based tasks designed to improve student’s assessment literacy can be converted into e-learning sessions that enable the explicit exploration of tacit knowledge.

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