"For the 2012 / 13 academic year, NTU is introducing a new scheme for assessing undergraduate students' work. The scheme is known as grade-based assessment or GBA.
A major advantage of GBA is that it ensures that there is a direct link between the expected learning outcomes of the part of the course being assessed and what you, the student, have demonstrated in the assessment. This short video explains this.
The specific arrangements relating to the assessment of a module will be set out in module documentation. Previously, assessed work was awarded a mark, usually a percentage. Following the introduction of GBA, each piece of assessed work will be awarded one of 17 grades.
You will be informed about what is expected of you in order to achieve a particular grade. This information will mean that feedback on your work will be clear and you will be able to evaluate your progress towards your final degree classification."
(Nottingham Trent University)
[This animated presentation provides an overview of the grade-based marking scheme which is being introduced at Nottingham Trent University for the 2012 / 13 academic year. The presentation is clearly aimed at NTU students (and refers to the university-specific VLE called the "NOW" - the "NTU Online Workspace"), despite this the clip covers issues which I expect have more general relevance to students studying at other institutions.]
"Norm and criterion referenced assessment are two distinctly different methods of awarding grades that express quite different values about teaching, learning and student achievement. Norm referenced assessment, or 'grading on the curve' as it is commonly known, places groups of students into predetermined bands of achievements. Students compete for limited numbers of grades within these bands which range between fail and excellence. This form of grading speaks to traditional and rather antiquated notions of 'academic rigour' and 'maintaining standards'. It says very little about the nature or quality of teaching and learning, or the learning outcomes of students. Grading is formulaic and the procedure for calculating a final grade is largely invisible to students.
Criterion referenced assessment has been widely adopted in recent times because it seeks a fairer and more accountable assessment regime than norm referencing. Students are measured against identified standards of achievement rather than being ranked against each other. In criterion referenced assessment the quality of achievement is not dependent on how well others in the cohort have performed, but on how well the individual student has performed as measured against specific criteria and standards. Underlying this grading scheme is a concern for accountability regarding the qualities and achievements of students, transparency and negotiability in the process by which grades are awarded, an acknowledgement of subjectivity and the exercise of professional judgement in marking."
(Lee Dunn, Sharon Parry and Chris Morgan, 2002)
"The motivations that lead researchers to publish in different formats – particularly in scholarly journals – differ significantly across disciplines. Researchers in the sciences are more likely to see publication in a learned journal as a ‘natural’ means of communication with their desired audience, while their colleagues in engineering, the humanities and the social sciences are more likely to see it as meeting essentially external requirements for research assessment and career advancement.
In these latter disciplines, therefore, the rise of journals is more closely associated with an environment where there is increasing emphasis on measuring, assessing, and evaluating research, its outputs and impact."
(HEFCE on behalf of JISC, UK, 2009)
"Individual learning plans form a 'route map' of how a learner will get from their starting point on a learning journey to the desired end point. They may be for one course and include the acquisition of qualifications and skills, or may link several courses that give progression to different levels (from level 1 to 3, or from level 2 to Higher Education). They should be individual for each learner to reflect aspirations, aptitude and needs.
Although there may be common learning goals and methods of delivery for all learners on a particular course, it is unlikely that all learners have exactly the same learning styles, abilities, support needs, access to assessment in the workplace (if applicable), previous qualifications or experience. Too many vocationally-based courses have identical individual learning plans where only the names of learners are different. Some will struggle to achieve them while others will find them too easy and lose interest by not being sufficiently challenged.
Individual learning plans should start from a common format, listing general outcomes, and then develop as initial assessment and circumstances impact. They should be live documents that are useful to the learner, delivery staff and possibly employers and parents/guardians."
(Learning and Skills Improvement Service, UK)
"Higher education institutions are large, complex, adaptive social systems like all other human organizations. Over the last decade, Higher Education around the world is facing a number of challenges and potential threats to effective learning and teaching support. In recent years considerable interest has focused on identifying those challenges, identifying opportunities and threats and proposing ways to address them. However, the relevant literature on higher education challenges is scattered over many textbooks, conferences and journals. This paper provides a comprehensive presentation of all those challenges found in the literature in a structured way. Also this study will identify how technology and data infrastructures could provide responses to address those challenges in a world where students are changing, their learning styles are changing, and the technologies to accommodate their needs are changing."
(Farhana Sarker, Hugh Davis and Thanassis Tiropanis, 2010)
1). Sarker, F., H. Davis, et al. 'A Review of Higher Education Challenges and Data Infrastructure Responses'. International Conference for Education Research and Innovation (ICERI2010). Madrid, Spain, International Conference for Education Research and Innovation (ICERI).