The purpose of this study is to explore the influences that shape the intention of a grading decision at the point at which it is made. This can be particularly important when those influences may vary during the marking process making reflective analyses also difficult to explore.
The authors draw upon a small sample of assessed scripts from two UK higher educational institutions and undertake a factor analysis of potentially important influences that shape the grading decision at the cognitive point it is made.
The authors’ findings indicate that for the sample analysed, the marker’s most important influences were those associated with the normative view of marking, although they also suggest potential influences from when the script was graded and the fatigue of the marker concerned.
The work is confined to management students and limited by the sample size. A factor analysis reveals the cluster of influences that contribute to observed grade outcomes but provides less clarity upon relative inter-dependencies between those factors. There are additional constraints in that the constructed data collection tool was self-administered.
The data collection instrument (VBA Excel workbook) is, the authors believe, quite innovative in capturing immediate cognitive reflections. It could be developed for other decision-making research. The authors also believe there are staff developmental outcomes from the work, to sustain and enhance assurance in the grading process.
As far as the authors can determine, research that has explored the influences shaping grading and mark allocation tends to be reflective or undertaken after the event. The authors’ research data are constructed at the same time as the grade/mark is determined.
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