Benchmarking OU Assessment Feedback Practice and Mechanisms

Jewitt, Katharine (2016). Benchmarking OU Assessment Feedback Practice and Mechanisms. The Open University.


The assessment programme has benchmarked OU’s practice in relation to providing students with feedback following assessment activities. Feedback systems and practice that take place elsewhere in the sector have been explored and a review carried out of current OU practice and recent OU scholarship in relation to assessment feedback. This report documents the results and findings.
There are 107 universities in England (HEFCE, 2016b), 15 in Scotland (Universities Scotland, 2016) 9 universities in Wales (Universities Wales, 2016) and 2 in Northern Ireland (NI Direct, 2016). Out of the total 133 universities in the United Kingdom, 25% (a total of 33) of the universities in the UK were interviewed for this research report.
The major findings are that HEIs have caught up with the OU in many aspects, in terms of online assessment, marking and feedback. The OU is seen as very traditional with an emphasis on academic rather than employability and inflexible in its approach, not providing a variety of mechanisms for assessment.
Exploration of FE, skills and work based learning is essential for the OU to develop a lead in trailblazer apprenticeships and the pending introduction of the levy. The OU is behind in relation to other universities.
There are considerable threats to the OU’s revenue stream in relation to the levy and growth of trailblazer apprenticeships, but at the same time opportunities for the OU to collaborate with new providers, such as within FE and become an assessment centre, as well as, a provider for apprenticeships.
The recommendations are for the OU to focus on three main areas: students first, employer engagement and staff and AL development.
The OU must start with students and involve them much more in working in partnership.
More employers working in partnership with the OU to ensure that curriculum and assessment provides work-ready students.
Like students, ALs also need to become fully integrated into the OU and supported in CPD and training to build their skills for effective assessment and the use of digital technologies.
Assessment needs to be designed that enhances employability and career development. Students need a portfolio that travels with them throughout their OU journey and demonstrates their work read skills and attributes for employability.

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