PTA training and support for marking and assessment
To support central provision provided through LTHE and APP, Classics and Ancient History conducts an annual marking training session for new academic colleagues (including PTAs) and encourages existing teaching staff members to attend. The session includes sample marking exercises for different assessment types, such as essays and exams, representing different levels of achievement. This usually includes one assignment that is particularly challenging to mark, such as an example that is borderline between two grade classification bands. This approach prompts a discussion among the group about the factors that distinguish grade bands, enabling an exploration of how feedback can be provided to candidates to improve their mark and move from the upper end of one grade band (e.g. high 2:1) into the next (1st).
Participants are asked to mark the assignments in preparation for the session, to enable them to discuss each assignment in turn sharing their feedback and comparing their marks. The original feedback and mark is then shared. Each participant carries out a self-reflection exercise (taken from Brown and Glover, 2006) that helps them self-assess their feedback. The session takes about two hours in total.
In addition, PTAs who are new to marking are asked to double-blind mark their first ten exams or essays with the module convener. Both mark them independently; once the PTA has finished these, they let the module convener know. They will then meet to compare their marks and their feedback on those first ten, going through them together. If there are any problems, then the module convener will talk the PTAs through the issues, getting them to mark another ten if applicable. The module convenor will then moderate these assessments at random. If everything is fine, the PTA can keep marking their allocated assessments confidently.
Experienced staff can also benefit from the workshop by reflecting on their practice and learning from others through discussions with colleagues. By bringing together experienced markers alongside those new to assessment in HE, the workshop ensures that all staff members engage in continuous professional development of their practice.
Brown, E. and Glover, C. (2006) ‘Evaluating Written Feedback,’ in C. Bryan and K. Clegg (eds.), Innovative Assessment in Higher Education, (London: Routledge): 81-91.
This case study was developed by Jo Sutherst following an interview with Professor Sharon Marshall.
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Professor Sharon Marshall is Associate Professor in Classics and Ancient History, teaching predominantly language and literature courses. She aims to combine in her teaching a broad understanding of the literature of the ancient world, and what it tells us about culture and society more generally, with close textual examination and critical analysis. She teaches a range of language courses and literature in translation, including Roman Love Elegy, Roman Laughter and Writing Women in Ancient Literature. Over the years, her research has increasingly shifted towards Classics education in both historical and contemporary contexts and her interests in innovative pedagogy and assessment underpin her teaching practice, especially in her Creative Interpretative Project and Applied Classics modules.