Subjectivity as a Tool for Clarifying Mismatches between Markers

Dr. Emma Medland, King’s Learning Institute, King’s College, London, London, UK

Looking at PG certificate in Academic Practice. All assessments are double blind marked but external examiners said that there were too  many significant discrepancies so decided to carry out this research as had a lot of third marking. In educational development there are people with different academic backgrounds. Debate about whether academic development is even a discipline. So what does this mean for marking in this area?

Interviewed markers of one assignment, two  themes:


  • identifying the grade – general agreement about academic  ‘intuition’ informed by previous experience. This is problematic for new lecturers. Mismatched was viewed positively as a means of having a discussion and informing values around marking
  • public or private nature of feedback. Dialogue with student, justification for  external, justification for yourself
  • discipline any differences? Some felt that disciplinary differences were overstated. Other did pay attention to discipline.

–  Academic development

  • Relationship to academic development –whether or not identified with discipline a not
  • Perception of academic development –struggle here and unsure how academic development fits in the University. Idea of them being the ‘grit’ but also problems of identity and whether people take academic development seriously.

–       Future of academic development –higher education cutbacks causing alarm. Difficulty of recognition, need to justify existence. Concern about future director and whether academic development is understood.

Large proportion of mismatches does result in a lot time. However does surface important issues around values and values of the discipline which would otherwise remain implicit. Subjectivity could be viewed differently and positively as a way of bringing a team together.

Question: whether should just have a pass /fail rather than marks? At Kings get an indicative grade not actual mark.

[notion of ‘gut instinct’ and experience base problematic for new lecturers – more research needed here?]

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