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Durham e-Theses
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A case study of a policy decision: anonymous marking with special reference to the university of Durham in 1994

Yeo, Jake (1995) A case study of a policy decision: anonymous marking with special reference to the university of Durham in 1994. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Broken down into four separate Chapters, this thesis presents a study of anonymous marking, with special reference to the experience of the University of Durham which introduced a policy of anonymous marking in 1994. It is a study of a single university, and of a very recent change. The thesis adopts a range of different approaches. Chapter One identifies the principles underlying anonymous marking and examines them in the context of the mission, aims and objectives of a university. Chapter Two reviews the literature which has sought various explanations for women achieving a lower proportion of first and third class degrees compared to men, suggesting that more attention should be paid to investigating the differential performance of men and women in individual subjects rather than for degrees as a whole; the pattern of results in the one not being the same as the pattern of results in the other. The hypothesis that sex bias in marking lies behind this pattern is shown to be inconclusive. As a result, the positions of a number of high profile individuals and educational organisations, which advocate the widespread introduction of anonymous marking based on the fact that sex bias in marking has been proven to exist, are shown to be misplaced and possibly premature. In Chapter Three, the practical operation of a newly implemented system of anonymous marking, and the processes involved in the run up to, and after, the policy decision to introduce the system at the University of Durham, are viewed in a case study. The university is analysed as a political system in which the policy process is understood by identifying the different interests involved. The practical implications - in terms of costs, time, administration, anonymity and morale - for all members of the university are considered against the criteria for anonymous marking, and the aims and objectives of the university. In the concluding Chapter it is recommended that higher education institutions contemplating introducing anonymous marking take a close look at the practicability and desirability of such a system, particularly in the light of other developments in higher education, and the feelings of some of the academic staff and of the student community who did not like to feel anonymous. If a system of anonymous assessment is to be introduced it should be done carefully, with wide consultation and with a clear view as to what the system is being designed to achieve, heeding the lessons and the practical recommendations of this study. Otherwise good objectives will be poorly served by poor policy changes.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1995
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:47

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