A qualitative exploration of key stakeholders' perceptions and opinions of awarding body marking procedures

Past research into perceptions of GCSEs and A-levels suggests that how informed individuals are of current marking procedures, and the level of information stakeholders receive varies considerably. However, ensuring certain individuals associated with the examination process sufficiently understand awarding body procedures, including those adopted for marking examination papers is highly important. A lack of understanding by stakeholders suggests awarding bodies are not transparent enough, which can result in misconceptions and mistrust of their work. Additionally, ensuring individuals understand the examination system fully might lead to greater confidence in the system, something which is important to awarding bodies given the competitive environment in which they operate. Previous research into perceptions of the examination system has failed to explore individual's perceptions of the actual processes adopted for marking examination papers, or opinions on what these procedures should be. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to address this gap in the literature, by exploring perceptions and opinions of marking procedures among key stakeholder groups. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with teachers, parents, and examiners and a focus group was conducted with five GCE students. The findings suggest that parents, teachers and students are largely unaware of current marking procedures. Additionally, there also appears to be a lack of understanding of the examination system in general. Considering these findings, it is suggested that AQA should do more to increase the transparency of their routine processes and should aim to increase understanding of the examination system amongst key stakeholder groups.

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