Well here's a thing.... published in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago and quite compelling.


I now try and make sure that participants in workshops do not sit down for more than 30 mins (and have quite taken to the Pomodoro technique myself.)


In short, please make sure that the biscuits, chocolate and wine are kept in another room!

All best


HE Consultant and Researcher
Director, Centre for Recording Achievement
HEA Associate

Mobile  0744 2040 955
Skype  steve.outram1

On 27 September 2017 at 10:48:55 +01:00, Ian Scott <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
i always thought red wine was the best companion to marking 

On 27 September 2017 at 08:41, Phil Race <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Great reply Peter.
Your last point first - my researches show I am rubbish at typing standing up. It's in the name - a laptop is designed to be on one's lap.

Some time ago, J R Hartley of Keele, I believe studied the difference refereeing papers in print and online - can't remember where it was published, but I remember him concluding that we did these things differently. 

Like you, I like both paper and online, but my generosity index is damaged if I go to the trouble of printing something out and it proves not worth having done (printers are still the weak link in ed tech, and the cost of ink to retired individuals who have to pay for it ourselves puts me in a worse mood!

I agree with you that the 37-73 syndrome affecting marks in some disciplines is very silly, and 100 should be scored by a piece of work that is really very good (if not, of course, as good as the assessor believes himself/herself capable of producing on a good day and in a lot of time!).

Back to another great theme in this thread: I can easily resist chocolate, but can't resist chips. 


Professor Phil Race



On 27 September 2017 at 08:25, Peter Hartley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
This thread has offered some rich opportunities for future research!

Bland’s reply below offers another line of enquiry - the personality and deep subconscious leanings of the marker. 
Is the chocolate the final recourse cum prop to psychological harmony (the alternative to existential despair) or a positive reward/ego boost?

My own memory goes back to the time when any mark above 70 was the focus of sustained interrogation at the examination board and a 75 or above had to be defended as the work of near-genius. 
So a glass or red wine AND chocolate was a welcome postscript given that the attainment of such marks was an obvious tribute to my inspired teaching. 

But then we started divulging our assessment criteria and even helping students understand them - little wonder that more students started producing excellent work.

And then them on high told us to ‘use the whole marking scale up to 100’ although nobody seemed to know where (or when) the old grading distribution had come from or why 1st class marks ‘deserved’ a part of the scale which was so much bigger than anybody else’s, except for those few miserable souls at the bottom. And can anyone explain this today?

So more students hit top marks - i had to retire the bottle and ration the biscuits (one nibble for 70, 2 nibbles for 75 etc.)

But back to the present day (as this was before online came along) and 2 thoughts re current practice:

1. The difference between paper and screen
I am sure that research does suggest that we ‘read’ differently onscreen but I don’t know of any research which follows this up in the context of assessment. 
An opportunity for both quantitative and qualitative investigation. Cross-institutional and cross-discipline?

2. The advantage of paper AND screen
I have experienced the advantages and benefits of onscreen marking as explained by Corony but still want to use paper for long pieces of work like dissertations. It is so much easier to review and compare/cross-reference with a physical document. Ideally you need both as reading on paper can throw up comments which you can check in the online version - e.g. where was this phrase used before? - which would be either impossible or too laborious to check just from the paper version. In my last experience as an external examiner a few months ago  I requested both paper and electronic version and found it really helpful to have both.

And looking to the future, we can speculate that the new injunctions to take more exercise from our health and wellbeing units will filter through - does the stand-up desk increase or decrease the generosity of markers? Or does this depend on the relationship to lunchtime?

Best wishes

On 26 Sep 2017, at 10:53, BLAND TOMKINSON <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Contrary to the performance of the judiciary, I am back to my original hypothesis - this mornings dissertation merited both one of the lowest marks and also the highest biscuit consumption!  This despite having gained a pound in weight so far this week and facing my annual blood test tomorrow...
I cannot imagine how Sally managed such a weight loss.  Maybe I should focus on the ironing?



C Bland Tomkinson BSc BA MEd PFHEA FAUA
Visiting Lecturer, University of Manchester
Special Consultant, South East University, Nanjing
Associate Editor, HERD
Co-Editor, IETI

----Original message----
Date : 25/09/2017 - 20:13 (GMTST)
Subject : Re: Does Marking Make You Fat?

Far be it from me to compare our students to criminals but research suggests that judges' decisions on parole are in fact influenced by whether they have recently eaten, suggesting that markers' grades may also vary depending on the recency of chocolate biscuit consumption!


Sent from my iPhone
You may have received this message outside of working hours, but you are not expected to respond at that time.

On 25 Sep 2017, at 16:59, Phil Race <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Yes John. Derek Rowntree's book was great, and he had the best handwriting I ever saw. 
In my early days, I marked with a fountain pen, and then as now to classical music, which from time to time I found it appropriate to assist the conductor, fountain pen still in hand. . I had to apologise to the student whose assignment was well ink-splattered! Nowadays, assessing on-screen is much safer. 

Sent from my mobile 
Prof Phil Race

On 25 Sep 2017, at 16:31, Edwards, Corony <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
At least marking online avoids a problem I had as a programme co-ordinator some years ago – having to make photocopies of the scripts marked by one colleague before returning the copies to students, because I didn’t feel I could send them the originals reeking of cigar smoke and liberally marked with red wine stains… (so it’s not just chocolate, it seems).
Corony Edwards PFHEA
Independent HE Consultant
07771 923799
From: Online forum for SEDA, the Staff & Educational Development Association [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Lea, John ([log in to unmask])
Sent: 25 September 2017 15:32
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Does Marking Make You Fat?
Older members (no offense) of this community may remember what I thought was an excellent book by Derek Rowntree.  I think it was called `Assessing students: how shall we know them?’
In it he recommended that assessment feedback should be accompanied with a statement about how assessment opinions can serious damage your sense of reality.
I always wanted a similar statement to front of all assessment-feedback templates in the form of the government smoking warning: `Assessment feedback can seriously damage your health’.  I thought this applied equally to teachers as much as students, but I was thinking more of mental health.  Thank you Bland for helping me to see that this could be physical health as well.
But in these more post-modern times I suppose that depends on whether you think that chocolate and coffee are bad or good for you.
John Lea

From: Online forum for SEDA, the Staff & Educational Development Association <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Wendy Garnham <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 25 September 2017 14:49
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Does Marking Make You Fat?
This is an interesting question to which I don’t have any obvious answers- I do wonder if the students spend less time reading the feedback when it is online though. My instinct is that they do.
On a related note, the Active Learning Network (http://activelearningnetwork.com) is planning a series of online meetings across the academic year and on 5th December we are holding one on the theme of Improving the Feedback Process (assignments, verbal feedback, automated, 1-to-1 tutorials, reflective feedback and video/audio feedback). There will be an initial video conference where ideas can be exchanged on the key theme followed by a chance for facilitators to follow this up with groups in their own institutions. If anyone would like to be involved in this, please do sign up to the active learning network blog for updates on how to join and a list of what is planned for the term ahead. Similarly, if you have any ideas that you would like to see featured either in the blog or in the discussion meetings, then please get in touch. Looking forward to some cross institution collaboration!

A site for anyone interested in or working on Active Learning projects

Wendy Garnham
Dr Wendy A. Garnham D.Phil, P.G.C.E., B.Sc(Hons)
Teaching Fellow in Psychology, University of Sussex
University email: [log in to unmask]
Co-founder of the Active Learning Network: http://activelearningnetwork.com
From: Online forum for SEDA, the Staff & Educational Development Association [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of BLAND TOMKINSON
Sent: 25 September 2017 14:31
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Does Marking Make You Fat?
The original question was “Is there a correlation between the number of chocolate biscuits that I consume and the mark that I give when marking Masters’ dissertations?”  However, monitoring the first few that I have been marking suggested that the results were likely to be little better than random –bang goes another theory (and an opportunity to bid for a research study using a bigger number of markers and a huge volume of chocolate biscuits).  However, I have noticed that there are some triggers for reaching for the chocolate.  The obvious one is a dissertation written in poor English: perhaps the less obvious one is that I reach for the biscuits more frequently when marking online – at the moment one course is marked entirely online and the other has online scripts some of which I have printed out) but offline marking forms.  (This wasn’t helped when BlackBoard refused to give me access to the courses!)  What concerns me more is that I spend less time marking a dissertation online than I do with a paper copy.  Doubtless Jo Johnson (and the university) would tell me that this is because it is more efficient, but I have a strong suspicion that not only is marking online more stressful (evidenced by chocolate biscuits) but also less reliable.  After all, I could make the system really “efficient” and resort to random number tables – that would make the whole process less time-consuming, if somewhat unreliable.
Does anyone else have assessment-induced cravings (I notice that my coffee consumption also goes up)?  Does anyone else feel that marking online is less reliable (is there any research data)? 

Any scope for a research bid?


C Bland Tomkinson BSc BA MEd PFHEA FAUA
Visiting Lecturer, University of Manchester
Special Consultant, South East University, Nanjing
Associate Editor, HERD
Co-Editor, IETI

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Have you seen

Scott, I. and Mazhindu, D. (2014) Statistics for Health Care Professionals: An Introduction (2nd Edition). Sage 

Scott, I. and Spouse, J. (2013) Practice based Learning in Nursing, Health and Social Care; Mentorship, Facilitation and Supervision, Wiley

Ely, C and Scott, I. (2007) Essential study skills for Nursing, Elsevier