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Durham University

Welcome to Durham University's Common Awards website

Quality Assurance of Assessment

University Policy on the Quality Assurance of Examination and Assessment

(Learning and Teaching Handbook, 6.1.1)

Consult this policy for information on:

  • Anonymous marking
  • Double marking
  • Moderation of marks
  • Mark proforma
  • Marking to a template, objective marking and the statistical moderation of marks

Please note that this guidance is intended to be read by TEIs alongside the full University guidance on this policy, as set out in the Learning and Teaching Handbook 6.1 (Assessment Policies). The additional information below provides further clarification on the Policy in the context of the Common Awards programmes.

1. Mechanisms for the quality assurance of assessment: anonymous marking

Please note that links to the supporting paragraphs in the Learning and Teaching Handbook, where further information is outlined, are given below where relevant.

a) In regards to the marking of examination scripts, all university examinations must be sat and marked anonymously (see paragraph 6 of 6.1.1).

b) There is no requirement that coursework be marked anonymously, as the University recognises that this could conflict with the need to give timely feedback, though TEIs that wish to include this within their assessment policy are welcome to do so (see paragraphs 7-8 of 6.1.1).

c) In regards to the marking of major projects and dissertations (see paragraph 9 of 6.1.1) the University recognises that sometimes it is inevitable that the supervisor will also be the first marker and that anonymity can thus be hard to secure. Therefore project/dissertation titles should be approved anonymously by the TEI’s board of examiners; anonymous codes are not required, a list of project titles and supervisors is sufficient. Wherever possible major projects and dissertations should be marked under full anonymity; where this is impossible:

i. full double marking or an approved equivalent, such as multiple moderation of marking, is essential;

ii. if possible the second marking should be anonymous. To facilitate this the work is submitted using a code, even though the first marker may know the identity of the student;

d) All meetings of boards of examiners (both TEI and Durham boards), including those considering Level 4 marks, should be carried out with the students under consideration remaining anonymous (see paragraph 11 of 6.1.1).

2. Mechanisms for the quality assurance of assessment: double marking

(see paragraphs 12-16 of 6.1.1)

a) There is no University requirement that double marking must be blind or unseen (where the first marker’s marks and the rationale for them are not communicated to the second marker until after they have completed their marking), although this is permitted if TEIs wish to double-mark blind. It is considered by the University not practicable to require double-blind marking of, for example, specialised modules for which a TEI does not have more than one expert marker. In such cases a second examiner could moderate the consistency of marking but could not comment on the details of the material, and has to be guided by the first marker.

b) Double marking may be applied to all scripts in a run, or to a sample of scripts to moderate the work of the first marker. In the latter case the guidance in section 4 below should be followed.

c) Wherever double marking is used there should be a clear ‘audit trail’ showing the rationale for the mark reached by each marker, and communication between them to reach an agreed mark. The Common Awards marking coversheets provide a means of achieving this. Raw marks as well as reconciled marks should be made available to external examiners.

d) TEIs should operate a clear and effective procedure for resolving disagreements between first and second markers (an example of such a procedure is outlined in paragraph 16 of 6.1.1).

3. Sample marking to moderate marks

(see paragraphs 17-20 of 6.1.1)

a) If double marking is to provide a mechanism for moderating the marking of a run of scripts, it is University policy to require only a sample of examination scripts or assignments to be double marked.

b) If sample double marking for moderation purposes reveals a pattern of inconsistent, over-harsh or over-generous marking, then steps must be taken to review the full run of marks for that assignment/script (example procedures and regulations are outlined in paragraph 18 of 6.1.1).

c) The University's standard expectations as to the minimum percentage of summatively assessed work that should be double marked are outlined in paragraphs 19-20 of 6.1.1 in the Learning and Teaching Handbook. However, as the University's standard minimum sample sizes and percentages may not be applicable to all TEIs (i.e. where there are small cohorts of students), the University has approved a minimum sample size of 6 pieces of work or 10% (whichever is greater) for Common Awards programmes. TEIs will need to ensure that appropriately senior/experienced staff conduct the second marking. For major projects and dissertations, however, the sample size must be 100% (i.e. they must be double marked in full).

4. Mechanisms for the quality assurance of assessment: use of a mark proforma

(see paragraphs 21-31 of 6.1.1)

a) A mark proforma is a separate sheet in which the mark itself and the rationale for the mark awarded are recorded. The proforma should:

i. reflect the agreed level descriptors and assessment criteria for the work concerned;

ii. include a brief rationale statement for the mark, by the marker;

iii. include, where appropriate, evidence of communication between markers and the rationale for the agreed mark reached, or an outline of the steps taken where failure to agree a mark had occurred.

b) The Common Awards marking coversheets have been designed as a mechanism for gathering this information.

c) No marks or judgemental comments are to be written on examination scripts. It is, however, permitted to make factual annotations where these assist the marking process, for example in marking a language exercise. Marks or judgmental comments may be written on summative coursework, in order to support the provision of effective feedback to students.

Version control

Page updated Nature of amendment Amended by:
06.11.14 Amendment to para. 3(c) to clarify expectations re second marking (6 pieces of work or 10%). EM
04.11.15 Amendment to para. 3(c) to confirm the above amendment is applicable during 2015/16. JB