Research seminar: Moderation of dissertations and project reports: an alternative approach

On Wednesday 24 January, we were visited by Dr Ender Özcan and Dr Carmen Tomas from the University of Nottingham for a research seminar about moderation. Ender is an assistant professor of Operational Research and Computer Science with the Automated Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning (ASAP) research group in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, and the level 3 and level 4 undergraduate project coordinator for the School. Carmen is the Assessment Adviser for the University of Nottingham and works on the Teaching Transformation Programme leading on the area of assessment.

Ender and Carmen explained about their implementation of a novel approach to moderation of dissertations and project reports. Carmen explained the background to the project, which aims to ensure consistency and confidence in determining final grades. Like all the best projects, the assessment advisor and the head of computer science found that they were thinking along the same lines and were able to combine forces to create a new approach. I may be over-simplifying here, but the process goes something like this: the supervisor first-marks the assignment and submits a grade. At the same time, three colleagues read the submission in less depth. Each allocates the assignment to a grade band and submits this. Ender then compares the median marks. If the grades are in the same band, as 79% are (16% were identical), then the supervisor’s mark stands. If there is a wide gap, then the project is systematically referred to a full second marking. If there is more than six marks of difference across the markers, then the panel meets to discuss the final grade.

Student submissions are 15,000 words each. Each panel member reviews around 28 submissions and reported that they took between 10 and 30 minutes to review each one, compared to 90 minutes for a full, detailed, grading with feedback production.

Following the seminar, we had a lively debate about the pros and cons of introducing such an approach at Manchester Met. We talked about how this approach would mitigate the risk of single/bilateral marking groups. We also talked about whether it would mask weaker supervision, because the extreme grades may get removed during the process. Ender and Carmen said that there are now more first class marks than there used to be, but that this may be because of the simultaneous introduction of an analytic rubric.

Our thanks to Carmen and Ender for coming over to present to us and for engaging in a stimulating and robust discussion.


New Publication: An analysis of the factors that affect engagement of Higher Education Teachers with an Institutional Professional Development Scheme


Kathryn Botham, who is the CELT PSF Lead, recently had an article published in the ‘Innovations in Education and Teaching International Journal’ re. captioned subject.  Please see a short brief below:


An evaluation project was carried out to consider the factors that influence university teachers engagement with an institutional professional development scheme. Data was collected via an online questionnaire followed up by semi-structured interviews. This paper will consider those factors that encourage and act as barriers to engagement. The influence of six cross-thematic factors: Time; Institution; Culture; Management; Individual and Mentorship, on engagement will form the focus of the discussion. The report concludes that the key factor influencing engagement was the presence of intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation was a less effective motivator for HE teachers lacking intrinsic motivation.

If you would like to read this article further please click here:




MMU launches film to aid students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’ step into HE

The QAA have just published the report on a project they funded: Student Induction and Transition: Reciprocal Journeys, carried out by Alicia Prowse and Penny Sweasey from CELT. The project, described in an earlier post,  took academic staff from MMU to a local sixth-form college, and invited staff and students from the college back to the university. Their impressions and expectations were recorded and are summarised in the accompanying video, produced by Eleanor Hannan.

Do the experiences of these staff and students match your own? What actions do you, or might you, take to support transition into Higher Education? Do let us know.

Source: MMU launches film to aid students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’ step into HE

From Multiculturalism to Global Citizenship: Changing Institutional Strategy and Culture in a UK University

Colleagues – please note this event for MMU colleagues on Wednesday 5th November

Date: Wednesday 5th November 2014

Time: 14.00-15.00

Place: Birley 2.28

Alicia Prowse, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK.

Lynne Parmenter, Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan.


We examine the perceptions and views of senior leaders at one higher education institution regarding the process of crossing the bridge from aspirational vision statements to implementation, as global citizenship as a concept at various levels of policy and practice was being developed. This initiative included professional development for faculty and staff and the introduction of a global citizenship award for students. While the project involved data collection from a wide range of stakeholders within the University, this paper focuses on the perspectives of senior leaders in the University, exploring their understandings of global citizenship in the local context, and their views about strategies to implement global citizenship and the requirements in terms of changes in institutional culture. In particular, we ask how certain discourses in a University manage to get onto the agenda? How do Universities perceive and adopt strategies and why do certain discourses become powerful and not others? We used twelve semi-structured interviews conducted with senior managers of the University, including members of the University’s central leadership team, heads of major administrative departments, and Deans of faculties. Here, analysis concentrates on senior staff concepts of global citizenship, and plans for implementation via strategic activity. Interviews were transcribed and coded using qualitative analysis methods and categories were elicited from the data. Themes appearing across the interviews were then identified and integrated with theory to analyze the ways in which senior leaders perceive global citizenship and their views of translating this from aspirational vision to reality through implementation.

Our first animations

Animation, communication and social care

Jenny hard at work (Marian and I out of shot) Jenny hard at work

We didn’t want to ask our students to do anything that we wouldn’t do, so we knew that we would include animations as part of our teaching. We just hadn’t planned how and when this would happen yet. The ideal opportunity came along when we were discussing the first week of teaching and introducing ground rules on how we (we being ourselves and the students) behave as a group. So we decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to create an animation as a prompt.

We banned ourselves from playing around until we’d had a discussion about what we wanted, and produced a a storyboard (best practice learnt from our reading, but also from our own previous attempts of trying to jump in at the deep end and ‘just make something’).

We decided we wanted an animation that would prompt a group discussion about what our…

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