Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Letters

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Letters

Article excerpt

Resits are failing students

We read with interest your article on the problems with resit examinations ("Resits may not improve academic performance, says study", News, 17 November).

At our own medical school, we realised a few years ago that resits in undergraduate medicine were unfit for purpose. One only had to sit on exam boards and see the thick files of issues that had occurred for individual failing candidates to know this. Such candidates generally had a long history of poor performance but had progressed via resits.

Realising that resits did not seem to promote longer-term learning, we then undertook a longitudinal analysis of borderline and failing candidates, and found that over time the performance of these candidates typically worsened. Since then, we have developed a sequential model of assessment, in which candidates who fail the full assessment (the aggregate of a screening and an additional assessment for the weakest performers) must repeat the year rather than resitting and (usually) progressing as they would have done under the old model. We have subsequently found that not only do these repeating candidates improve, but so too do those who were called back for the additional assessment but who passed.

We believe that medical education assessment practices are some of the best in higher education, in part because of the strong research base motivated by the naturally high stakes involved in training junior doctors. We would recommend that many other subject areas would benefit from considering these issues in greater depth when developing their own assessment practices.

Godfrey Pell and Matt Homer

Assessment Research Group

University of Leeds Medical School

Who cares wins

There is a particular type of creeping dread that overtakes me at the prospect of a corporate induction, and it was with a secret stash of sudokus that I attended one at the University of East London last week.

About 25 new employees from different departments and seniorities gathered and sat dutifully in the chairs that had been set out in a circle. We had a brief informal warm-up from an HR person, which was the same old same old, but wait, no PowerPoint? Videos we could check out online later as needed? Then the main event: the vice-chancellor was coming! I sank lower in my chair. John Joughin walked into the room, sat in the circle and started chatting to the person sitting next to him: what is your job here at UEL? What brought you to UEL? What did you do in your last job? Where do you live? What's your commute like?

Over the next hour he interrogated each of us in turn and by the end we knew a lot about each other, and a lot about him, including where he came from, where he lived, why he had taken the job as vice-chancellor, what his aspirations were and what he saw as the real challenges for the university. Afterwards, they gave us lunch so that we had a chance to get to know each other better. Never once were "visions and values" mentioned, there was not a single slide, but by the end I had a real grasp of the aims of the university and I felt proud and excited to be working here. Want to understand your workforce and make them feel part of the team? Job done.

Octavia Wiseman

University of East London

Only connect

Articles are written separately, but the answer to many of our problems can be found by joining three of them in the 17 November issue: Janice Kay laments the rise of Trump (/Brexiteers), and how universities might have stopped it ("Trump victory underlines the importance of universities' role", Opinion). …

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