5.6 Summative and formative assessment/feedback

Summative assessment contributes directly to the student’s overall score on a module. Marking work which is predominantly correct is usually fairly easy but when the student goes wrong, difficulties might arise. Marking guides tend to indicate the proportion of marks to give to different sections, and detail what the marks are for. Nevertheless, there are occasions when tutors need to use their discretion. Grading is, in practice, an inexact science.

There is also a formative element to correspondence tuition, where students are given feedback but there are no associated marks awarded. Quite often there are issues with spelling or grammar, so although marks are not deducted it is appropriate to make corrections and possibly point students to general resources that are not module-related, such as the OU’s guide to academic writing [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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For maths calculations, the given answer might be correct, but the layout of the working could be improved. When marking, an alternative way to present the solution might be shown the student without deducting any marks. In other instances, students might produce a piece of code that works but is relatively inefficient, so an alternative solution might be provided such as using a repeat loop rather than repeat lines of code.

In the following example, the tutor has awarded full marks but added some useful teaching points.

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5.5 Feedback and feedforward

5.7 Turnaround times