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Assessment Compact Good Practice Exemplars

Analysing model answers

Analysing model answers

What’s the story?

In this module students analyse and identify the qualities of a ‘model answer’. This is combined with feed forward on an initial piece of coursework to help students improve subsequent coursework.

Module Information

Faculty: HSS
Department: Social Sciences
Module name and Code: U21132 Environmental Hazard Management
Level: 5
Number of students:
Module leader: Helen Walkington
Contact details:

Aspects of the assessment compact scrutinised in this case study

This case study concerns an intervention concentrating on three Compact clauses:

Clause 2.1 – “Assessment is central to the curriculum, and there should be no distinct boundary between assessment, teaching and learning. All academic staff will therefore be encouraged to regard assessment as a fundamental and integral part of programme design, and one that is intended to shape and develop learning, as much as to judge and measure it.”

Clause 2.3 – “The relationship between learning outcomes and assessment tasks is made explicit. In addition, clear assessment criteria should be provided whenever possible, and always when the assessment contributes to marks, grades, or decisions about progression. Assessment judgments must focus on the achievement of the learning outcomes against the assessment criteria, and this achievement authenticated as the student’s own.”

Clause 2.5 – “students are given supportive, constructive and timely feedback as an essential part of their learning … and have a clear sense of what they need to do to improve, with subsequent opportunities provided to act on the feedback and to put the advice given into practice”

What aim(s) did you have in changing your assessment approach?

The aims of this approach were to help students identify the qualities of good quality assignments, using exemplars/model answers; and provide feed forward to help them improve subsequent work.

What change(s) did you actually make?

In this module, before students do the first coursework, the module leader gives them an example piece of a relatively good piece of work to look at. She then goes through it with the class in detail, highlighting especially what makes it good. When the students get their coursework back she gives very detailed feedback, including specifically ways to improve. This practice is simple but effective, with students greatly valuing it.

How did you evaluate this intervention?

This approach was evaluated using an in-class focus group.

What do students say about this intervention?

Students were overwhelmingly positive about the module, particularly the assessment aspects mentioned above. The criticisms mentioned below were not major — simply suggestions for improvement of something already pretty good.

Regarding assessment and feedback, the things that went well/were good

  • Exemplar was fantastic idea. Especially going through it and emphasis on what was good about it.
  • The notes given back with the essay were excellent - full and detailed, with ways to improve.
  • Exemplary feedback cf. other subjects.

Things that did not go well/were not so good

  • Didn’t all know we could do drafts.
  • Different preferences of the two lecturers in what they wanted e.g. pictures and graphs as annexe or in the body text (but did know if you went to the lecture!)

Proposals for improvement

  • Would like a one-to-one tutorial after work returned (but didn’t ask!)
  • An exemplar for the second assignment
  • Submit second assignment after all the lectures!

What has been the impact of this change in assessment?

Students are highly appreciative of the feedback and support they get in this module. The module leader believes there have been notable improvements in the quality of student work since introducing this approach.

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