Coursework versus examinations in end-of-module assessment: a literature review

Richardson, John T. E. (2015). Coursework versus examinations in end-of-module assessment: a literature review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(3) pp. 439–455.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.919628

Abstract

In the UK and other countries, the use of end-of-module assessment by coursework in higher education has increased over the last 40 years. This has been justified by various pedagogical arguments. In addition, students themselves prefer to be assessed either by coursework alone or by a mixture of coursework and examinations than by examinations alone. Assessment by coursework alone or by a mixture of coursework and examinations tends to yield higher marks than assessment by examinations alone. The increased adoption of assessment by coursework has contributed to an increase over time in the marks on individual modules and in the proportion of good degrees across entire programmes. Assessment by coursework appears to attenuate the negative effect of class size on student attainment. The difference between coursework marks and examination marks tends to be greater in some disciplines than others, but it appears to be similar in men and women and in students from different ethnic groups. Collusion, plagiarism and personation (especially ‘contract cheating’ through the use of bespoke essays) are potential problems with coursework assessment. Nevertheless, the increased use of assessment by coursework has generally been seen as uncontentious, with only isolated voices expressing concerns regarding possible risks to academic standards.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 40318
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1469-297X
  • Extra Information
  • This article is reprinted in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (2016) Malloch, Margaret, Cairns, Len and O'Connor, Bridget N. (eds.) Sage Library of Educational Thought and Practice.
  • Keywords
  • coursework; degree class; ethnicity; examinations; gender
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Research Group
  • Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2014 Taylor & Francis
  • Depositing User
  • John T. E. Richardson

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