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Newly appointed academics’ experiences of marking

Sales, Rachel


Rachel Tims
Occasional Associate Lecturer - CHSS - NAM


Academics supporting students in health social care are often described as gatekeepers for their professional disciplines as they are seen as experts able to make reliable judgments when assessing students. This metaphorical use of the term gatekeeper recognises that academics’ in these disciplines are often on the same professional registered that student wants to enter and that assessment can also have a gatekeeping purpose ensuring that academic standards and professional standards are maintained (Leach, et al 2001). Ilott and Murphy, (1997) suggest that because of the professional gatekeeping aspects of assessment, students are under a greater scrutiny than students on awards that do not lead to a professional recognised qualification: as these courses need to produce students who are confident and professionally competent in both the theory and practice of their chosen professional pathway.

Newly appointed academics within these disciplines are often experienced practitioners, who are seen as moving from being experts familiar with professional assessment in their previous roles to novices in an academic setting. For such new academics the first experience of marking is an event as memorable as the experience of preparing for and giving the first teaching session. Yet whilst the academic literature abounds with reflections and narratives about the latter, there is a paucity of literature on the former despite the assertion that marking carries an emotional burden for lecturers (Hand and Clewes, 2000): and that marking and assessment can be “the most significant quality event in the lives of students and academics” (Flemming, 1999:83). To address this shortfall in the literature an extended independent study as part of a professional doctorate was undertaken was given ethical approval.

Aim: The aim of the study was to explore the experience of six newly appointed academics from health and social care backgrounds as they began to mark and give feedback on student coursework.

Methods: Three in-depth interviews which each participant.

Findings and conclusions: Each participant experienced different levels of support and guidance in relation to assessing, marking and giving feedback on students’ coursework. Participants reported a growing confidence in their academic judgements and discussed the challenges in relation to the emotional effects and ethical considerations that they had not anticipated. As a result of the study staff development sessions which focus on the needs of newly appointed academics have be introduced into the induction programmes for new staff.

How this work contributes to knowledge development in the theme:

• Exploration of the lived experience of six newly appointed academics within their probation year as they begin to mark and give feedback on student coursework.
• Increased awareness of the experience of newly appointed academics from health and social care backgrounds during their first year of employment.
• Suggestions for staff development workshops for newly appointed academics.


Sales, R. (2013, September). Newly appointed academics’ experiences of marking. Paper presented at 24th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference, Cambridge

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 24th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference
Conference Location Cambridge
Start Date Sep 4, 2013
End Date Sep 4, 2013
Publication Date Sep 4, 2013
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords academics, marking
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 24th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference