ii. Assessing a report
Teachers and reviewers often have to grade reports, which is commonly done rather subjectively. Also, if the assessment is non-numerical (eg in terms of Greek letters), more arbitrariness is involved in adding it to other marks, to achieve an overall grade. Better is a numerical assessment based on explicit criteria, such as the following ABCDE aspects -
- ACCURACY - the truth of the content and facts of the presentation,
- BREADTH - the adequacy of covering the topic,
- CLARITY - fluency within a lucid structure,
- DEPTH - the extent to which matters are explained rather than simply mentioned, and
- ENTERPRISE - the element of creative thought.
Equal weight might be given to each aspect. Thus, a total mark out of 20, say, would include a mark out of 4 for accuracy, and so on. A mark of 2 out of 4 would be satisfactory, 3 would be good, 4 perfect. Such marks show the writer where in particular some improvement is needed.
Examination questions that ask students to 'Discuss X' should contain the following at least -
- a definition of X;
- an outline of the main features of X, e.g. place, time, magnitude;
- consequences of X;
- aspects of X that are unclear or unknown, and how these problems might be tackled;
- an assessment of the importance of X.
Questions which ask for a 'comparison of A and B' should be answered with the following at least -
- brief definitions of each;
- typical and extreme values of each, and their location and times;
- differences between these places and times for A and for B respectively;
- perhaps a little graph of values of A against those of B at the same times and places;
- a statement of how B varies when A changes.
- Brindley, W.A. (1978) Objective grading of essay examinations. Educational Technology, Oct. '78, 27-29.
- Gardner, F.P. and G. Abraham (1978) A grading procedure for student writing. Teaching Sociology, 6, 31-35.