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How finely grained does summative assessment need to be?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2010
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Journal number6
Volume35
Number of pages13
Pages677-689
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Assessors in higher education are often faced with the need to grade student work on lengthy scales. Is such fine granularity in assessment really necessary? The question can be addressed at different levels of the assessment system: here the focus is on the difference that would be made to honours degree classifications if so‐called percentage grades were replaced by grades on a very much shorter scale. Detailed analysis of the complete assessment records of 144 Law students on a modular scheme in a university in the UK showed that the difference was not large, and derived mainly from the way in which sub‐modular grades were combined. Some implications of the findings are discussed, which have relevance beyond higher education in the UK.