An issue for assessment quality in higher education
This chapter discusses the findings reported in the Results chapter in five sections. The first section considers the findings of the study in relation to the previous research on the rating of writing that was reviewed in Chapter 2. The main areas of consideration are the text features that the assessors focussed on, and the variability and severity of their marks.
The next two sections are concerned with explaining the results of the study and discussing their implications; that is, why assessors responded differently to the NS and NNS essays, and why there was so much disagreement in their judgements. To do this, section two considers the differences in assessor responses to essays that were associated with essay language group, the results indicating that there were differences in the basis of assessor judgements of the quality of the NS and NNS essays. This finding points to the problems that are implicated in the broader issue of assessor disagreement – the outcome of which is the high level of disagreement over marks that was seen in this study; hence, the third section of the chapter examines the problem of variability in assessors’ interpretations of criteria and standards. The problems of poor inter-assessor reliability, and the likely reasons for it, are discussed in relation to aspects of the current HE environment in Australia, first raised in the introduction to this book; namely: changes towards mass provision of HE, growth in the number of international students, and new demands...
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