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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Reimann, N. & Robson, M. (2013). Using seen examination questions in economics: an evaluation. Journal of Further and Higher Education 37(2): 224-241.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper presents a detailed quantitative analysis of the use of seen questions within examinations in Economics option modules at one UK university. 4622 marks for seen and unseen questions awarded over a period of three years were analysed; the impact of personal characteristics was analysed using a sub-sample. It was found that the number of attempted answers to the seen question was somewhat lower than might be expected if students had engaged in random selection of examination questions and the proportion of students who attempted to answer the seen question varied both across modules and years. The majority of students who answered the seen question did so in only one module, and answering the seen question in more than one module did not have a positive impact on obtaining a good mark for the seen question. Most notably students who answered seen questions were more likely to obtain a good mark for seen than for unseen questions. The personal factors found to correlate with the likelihood of answering a seen question were gender, performance in Economics core modules, and type of school attended. Reasons for the findings are discussed and set within the context of innovation in Economics assessment.

School of Education