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Enhancing the quality and consistency of undergraduate dissertation assessment: A case study

Chaminda Pathirage (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Richard Haigh (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Dilanthi Amaratunga (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
David Baldry (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 17 July 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper sets out to examine methods that can be used to enhance the quality and consistency of dissertation assessment.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper includes a review of literature on quality, consistency and criteria of dissertation assessment to highlight the current practices in higher education. A case study approach was followed to pilot a range of assessment approaches and criteria in an attempt to measure and ultimately improve assessment consistency within the case study school's dissertation module on undergraduate programmes.

Findings

This paper highlights the main findings of the literature and the case study phases. Outcomes of two dissertation assessment exercises, a workshop organised among dissertation assessors and an analysis of previous years' dissertation assessment results from a case study school are outlined. Findings from two dissertation assessment exercises revealed wide variation in the assessment of dissertations by the school's assessors. Hence, a dissertation workshop was organised to disseminate the results and to discuss the implications for the school's assessment practice, which identified several initiatives to enhance the quality and consistency of assessment.

Originality/value

The need to ensure quality, consistency and improved criteria of assessment is particularly emphasised within modules where assessment is through one substantial piece of work such as a dissertation. This study highlighted the many challenges that a Programme Leader faces when devising an assessment strategy for a dissertation module.

Keywords

Citation

Pathirage, C., Haigh, R., Amaratunga, D. and Baldry, D. (2007), "Enhancing the quality and consistency of undergraduate dissertation assessment: A case study", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 271-286. https://doi.org/10.1108/09684880710773165

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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