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Published by the Learning and Teaching Unit
Winter 2003
ISSN 1477-1241
Learning and Teaching in Action logo

Vol 2 Issue 1: Assessment

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Rachel Forsyth

The Concept of Plagiarism
Bill Johnston

Plagiarism Detection Software - a new JISC service
Rachel Forsyth

Can students assess students effectively? Some insights into peer-assessment
A. Mark Langan and and C. Philip Wheater

Exploring the potential of Multiple-Choice Questions in Assessment
Edwina Higgins and Laura Tatham

Developing a new assessment strategy
Gaynor Lea-Greenwood

Assessing the Un-assessable
Tim Dunbar

How to assess disabled students without breaking the law
Mike Wray

Returning Feedback to Students via Email Using Electronic Feedback 9
Phil Denton

Tools for Computer-Aided Assessment
Alan Fielding and Enid Bingham

Faculty Learning and Teaching Reports

Learning and Teaching News from the Library

|photo of Rachel Forsyth

Rachel Forsyth
Learning and Teaching Unit


The theme of this term’s issue of Learning and Teaching in Action is Assessment. Plagiarism is something we all worry about and which we need to be certain that our assessment strategies will deter it. Wm Johnston opens the issue with a challenge to consider the concept of plagiarism in student work and our responses to it. The Learning and Teaching Subcommittee of the Academic Standards Committee is also considering ways to detect and deter plagiarism and I’ve added a brief note after Wm’s article outlining a pilot study to detect plagiarism using information technology, which gives contact details if you are interested in participating.

Mark Langan and Philip Wheater from the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences describe their positive experiences of using peer assessment in their courses. The title of their piece, “Can students assess students effectively?” neatly summarises the debate which has accompanied this topic for many years, and we hope that the article will stimulate much discussion among course teams.

Controversy may continue with the article by Edwina Higgins and Laura Tatham, which describes their research into and use of multiple-choice questions in the School of Law. There are many among you who will be sceptical of the value of multiple-choice questions in HE assessment – Edwina and Laura should convince you that there is something in it after all. Gaynor Lea-Greenwood follows this exploration with a case study of multiple choice use in the department of Clothing Design and Technology.

Changing the theme, Tim Dunbar, Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Art and Design casts a welcome ray of light on product-based assessment – a subject which many of us are unfamiliar with. It’s certainly a challenging topic, and it may make you think more carefully before you complain about marking the pile of essays in front of you! Mike Wray follows this with a summary of good practice to follow in the assessment of disabled students.

No issue of Learning and Teaching in Action would be complete without some articles on Information Technology, and here Phil Denton from Liverpool John Moores University describes his Electronic Feedback system which facilitates the preparation and distribution of feedback to students. This article is a follow up from Phil’s successful presentation at the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Learning and Teaching Day in September 2002 ( For those interested in getting computers to do even more of the work, and inspired by the articles on multiple choice questions, Alan Fielding and Enid Bingham have road-tested a selection of computer-based assessment software for you.

Finally, Faculty reports round up what’s been happening across the University, and Library News updates you on the latest Library initiatives to support learning and teaching.

The summer 2003 issue of Learning and Teaching in Action will be co-edited by Brian Murphy from the Department of Chemistry and Materials, and will cover Lifelong and Distance Learning. If you would like to contribute to that issue, please contact me at the email address below, or via the Learning and Teaching Unit, All Saints.

I hope you enjoy reading Learning and Teaching in Action, and look forward to receiving your comments and contributions to future issues. If you would like further copies, please contact Lesley Hamoodi at the Learning and Teaching Unit, All Saints (, ext. 3474), who will send you them if she has any left, or you could consider being more friendly to the environment and consulting the WWW edition, available from the Learning and Teaching Unit website at

Rachel Forsyth
Learning and Teaching Unit

Support for Learning and Retention- University Wide Interest Group.
A group of colleagues from across the University met recently to look at ways in which there could be a shared approach to work on Support for Learning and Retention. The aim of the group is to identify areas for collaboration and the sharing of good practice and to disseminate information and materials of interest. The next meeting, on Friday 14 March at 2pm, is open to all and colleagues with an interest in the topic are welcome. The venue will be posted by email or you can contact Kate Kirk ( for further information.


February 2003
ISSN 1477-1241

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