Gender, ‘bias’, assessment and feedback: analyzing the written assessment of undergraduate history essays

Read, B. , Francis, B. and Robson, J. (2005) Gender, ‘bias’, assessment and feedback: analyzing the written assessment of undergraduate history essays. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(3), pp. 241-260. (doi: 10.1080/02602930500063827)

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This paper reports on findings relating to a project on gender and essay assessment in HE. It focuses on one aspect of the study: the assessment of and feedback given to two sample essays by 50 historians based at universities in England and Wales. We found considerable variation both as to the classification awarded to the essays and to positive and negative comments made about their quality, supporting the argument that the ‘quality’ of a piece of writing for assessment is ultimately constructed by the reader of the essay and cannot be objectively ascertained. Gender issues emerging from the data are explored in the paper, relating to lecturers’ perceptions of the essays’ qualities; views concerning the way feedback should be presented; and the content and style of feedback given by lecturers on the sample essays. We found that gender constructions were manifested more in presentation than practice. These findings on the situated practice of assessment have implications for the conception of the ‘reliability’ of essay assessment in HE.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Read, Professor Barbara
Authors: Read, B., Francis, B., and Robson, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Educational Leadership & Policy
Journal Name:Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
ISSN (Online):1469-297X
Published Online:14 September 2010

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