Wednesday, 27 May 2009

HNC/D Computing assessment review

The Computing for Change group has met a couple of times to consider ways of improving the performance indicators for HNC/D Computing. As part of that work, I agreed to look at specific issues with the assessment of these awards.

A sub-group of the Qualification Support Team is meeting this Saturday to look at "problem" assessment exemplars and also consider ways of integrating assessments (across units) to reduce the assessment load.

I met with Caroline this morning to discuss the arrangements for the meeting. So far, we've had a low response to requests for the names of the specific units/examplars causing problems. It's not too late to suggest examplars that need to be improved so please use the comment facility to suggest packs.


  1. DH2T 34 Computer Architecture 1:
    I have been delivering and assessing this unit since it first began some twenty years ago.
    Unfortunately each revision of the unit has resulted in a unit of lower quality and inferior content.

    My comments about the assessments are as follows:-

    1. Outcome 1 is specified as closed book. This assessment involves the student in calculation and arithmetic methods. Answers cannot be found in any book - so why closed book?

    2. Outcomes 2 and 3 are specified as open book. The questions are of the 'describe' and 'explain' type and require 'extended response' answers. All a student need do is open a book and copy the required answers.

    Outcome 1 should be open book and outcomes 2 and 3 should be closed book.

    3. The exemplar assessment for outcome 2 is too long. The questions expect the student to regurgitate ALL of the material in outcome 2.
    "Different assessment events must sample different subsets" (p.10 descriptor). The exemplar assessment leaves no material left for a subset. The assessment is not realistic.

    4. What is the point of the question on tabular/graphical data in outcome 2?

    5. Given that assessment 2 alienates the student to this unit and it is a nightmare to mark, is it not possible to change the format to multiple choice. As stated on p10 of the unit descriptor:
    "Given the nature of the topic it is suggested that the material should not be assessed by questions requiring narrative answers."
    Yet this is precisely what the exemplar assessment is.

    In my opinion the current incarnation of Computer Architecture 1 is trivial, badly conceived, omits essential , contains trivialities and is badly assessed.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Architecture is one of the packs that we will write another pack for.

  3. DH3D 35 Relational Database Systems should be looked at in terms of lightening the assessment load. This is such a 'heavy' unit compared with other double credits.

  4. Tracey Bain, Angus College17/6/09 1:45 pm

    I agree that DH3D 35 Relational Database Systems should be looked at. The assessment workload is far heavier than comparable 2 credit units. The evidence requirements dictate enough work for at least 3 credits.