Anonymous marking in design - how does that work?

Year: 2009
Editor: Clarke, A, Ion, W, McMahon, C and Hogarth, P
Author: Southee, Darren John
Page(s): 182-186


An NUS survey in 1999 found that 44% of students believed there was discrimination and bias in their institution's assessment methods. More recently, there have been calls for anonymous marking within UK higher education institutions. It has been suggested that this could counter racism and avoid the effects of favouritism. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) defines anonymous marking in their code of practice as follows: "The identity of students is not revealed to markers and/or to the assessment panel or examination board. There may be a point towards the end of the assessment process where anonymity ends." This paper discusses the impact of anonymous marking upon the education process within a Design Education context. The marking of examination papers and some set written work can be carried out anonymously, but other methods of assessment do not lend themselves to this anonymity. In some instances, anonymous marking can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the education process. Given that anonymity is increasingly being demanded, it is important that research, consultation and discussion are carried out within the Design community to determine cohesive and workable policies. Robust methods that provide alternatives to anonymous marking, where appropriate, might allay these perceptions of discrimination and bias, and satisfy those involved in Quality Assurance. Anonymous marking can dehumanise the education process, limiting staff-student interaction and information exchange. Inclusively devised assessment methods, if successfully implemented, might create a better world for students, staff and all those involved in the Design higher education experience.

Keywords: Anonymous marking, assessment, student experience, design education, quality assurance

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