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Modes of Assessment – discussion document

As relative newcomers to Undergraduate provision, we in the School of Education are keen to learn a) about new ways of teaching and assessing, especially in relation to large groups and b) how to keep the assessment workload manageable. We have close links with the School of Continuing Education (SCE) and, in the light of very positive External Examiners' reports on the variety of modes of assessment used in their modules, it was decided to share good practice. The following assessment strategies are the product of our discussion.

Colleagues may wish to consider some of these methods within their own areas, a) to move away from / add to assignments and examinations and b) to ensure that we exploit a variety of assessment methods which allows a range of students’ needs to be met.


  • is it acknowledged that the SCE history groups tend to be smaller than many of our teaching groups;
  • from our own experience with presentations as a mode of assessment, we are aware that some methods of assessment, although very beneficial, are costly in terms of time;
  • as with any form of assessment, all of those below have pros and cons.

1) Two day open exam. Students collect questions at 9am on a given morning and are required to hand in the completed paper at 5pm on the following day. They are allowed to access the library, internet and any other resources as appropriate.

2) Student-run seminar (50% of total mark). Can be done individually or in groups. Students provide a full portfolio of notes and a report which can be passed on to the External Examiner.

3) Document appraisals – students are provided with extracts from articles or DfES publications, for example, and comment upon them.

4) Assessed course work book. Extract for each week on which student comments briefly (150 words). 25% of mark.

5) Review of journal articles (including on-line journals) – comparative review of two articles on the same topic. 20%

We are endebted to David Lamburn for giving up his time and agreeing to share his ideas with us. I trust that colleagues will see this as an opportunity to discuss the topic of assessment within programme and module teams.

For further information contact Gary Chambers


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