Repository logo

Do assessors pay attention to appropriate features of student work when making assessment judgements?

Published version

Change log


Crisp, Vicki 


It is via the judgements of appropriate experts that assessment decisions are made, yet the actual thought processes involved during marking or grading are under-researched. This article draws on a study of the cognitive and socially-influenced processes involved in marking and grading A level geography examinations and pilot research into the marking of GCSE coursework by teachers. This data was used to investigate whether assessors pay attention to appropriate features of student work.

Verbal protocols of assessors' thinking aloud whilst marking and grading work were collected and measures of marker agreement were obtained. The protocols were analysed in detail using appropriate coding schemes. From the behaviours identified, a tentative model of the marking process was developed, within which features of student work affecting judgements and social and personal reactions were identified. Whilst many features that appeared to influence evaluations were clearly focussed on the criteria intended for evaluation, some were not and could have influenced evaluations. Reactions to language use or legibility (when not assessing communication), personal or emotional responses and social responses sometimes occurred before marking decisions. The article discusses whether such responses could explain variations in marks from different examiners.



Evaluation of assessment, Marking, Psychology of assessment

Journal Title

Research Matters

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Publisher DOI

Publisher URL