About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5190-5197
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain

IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN ESSAY STYLE EXAMS USING PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES: A PILOT STUDY

M. Keown, S. Chaudhry

University of Manchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
Assessment can have a range of roles and purposes including assessment of learning and assessment for learning. However, a big challenge for many students in terms of assessment is how to apply the knowledge from lectures to exam situations. In undergraduate education in Life Sciences at the University of Manchester from second level (year) onwards, all of the course examinations contain primarily essay and/or short answer questions.
To better support students in successfully applying their knowledge in such exams we developed practice opportunities as part of the course curriculum. The course was an undergraduate haematology module in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (currently 93 students enrolled in 2012/2013 academic year).
The first practice exam opportunity was made available in 2011/12. This consisted of the students being issued with a set of four exam questions at the beginning of the semester. They were to select one and this would be the question they would answer under exam conditions during week 9 of the 12 week semester. Numbers were limited on each question but students could change their chosen question anytime up to the deadline one week before the practice exam session.
In 2012/13, the practice exam was adapted so that students did not know the question prior to the practice session. Instead at the beginning of the semester, they were asked to select one of two “themes”. Numbers were limited to 45 on each theme but students could change themes at any time up to the deadline as before. On the exam practice day the students were then given a question from their chosen theme and they had to write an answer under exam conditions. Their essay was marked by an academic staff member and copied for anonymous peer marking during a subsequent timetabled session in week 10. The peer marker was given a model answer and had also completed the same question during the exam practice session. Both marks and sets of feedback were then returned to students in week 12.
Students would sit their real module exam approximately four weeks later.
Baseline measurement of student ability was established by looking at performance of students taking this module prior to the introduction of the practice exam. In 2009/10 and in 2010/11, the average mark for the unit was 50%. In 2011/12, when the first practice exam took place the average mark was 53%. This year in 2012/13, with the revised practice exam format the average mark increased to 58%.
Preliminary analysis from surveying the students indicated that 100% felt the practice exam was helpful in knowing what was expected in exam essay questions and how the marking criteria is applied to these questions.
Academic feedback was well received with 100% of students stating that it was helpful, however there were mixed feelings on peer feedback. Only 55% felt that peer feedback was helpful but 73% agreed that the peer marking element of the practice exam was useful. This was further reflected in the free comments from student. All students surveyed felt that the practice exam opportunity was a worthwhile exercise and should be retained as part of this module in the future.
@InProceedings{KEOWN2013IMP,
author = {Keown, M. and Chaudhry, S.},
title = {IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN ESSAY STYLE EXAMS USING PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES: A PILOT STUDY},
series = {5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN13 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3822-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {1-3 July, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {5190-5197}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Keown AU - S. Chaudhry
TI - IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN ESSAY STYLE EXAMS USING PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES: A PILOT STUDY
SN - 978-84-616-3822-2/2340-1117
PY - 2013
Y1 - 1-3 July, 2013
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN13 Proceedings
SP - 5190
EP - 5197
ER -
M. Keown, S. Chaudhry (2013) IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN ESSAY STYLE EXAMS USING PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES: A PILOT STUDY, EDULEARN13 Proceedings, pp. 5190-5197.
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