Mathematicians from Loughborough University will consider how to improve the quality of GCSE mathematics examinations, as part of a new research project.
Present maths exams have been criticised for failing to gauge the depth of pupils' understanding. Short, factual questions, a common feature of current maths examinations, are said to negatively affect classrooms by encouraging the repetitive learning of facts. In light of this, some have called for longer, more elaborate questions that better test the in-depth knowledge of pupils.
Marking poses the main obstacle to such questions being introduced. Some fear that a reduction in objectivity could lead to inconsistent assessment, and could therefore prevent pupils from obtaining their deserved grades.
Drs Ian Jones and Matthew Inglis from Loughborough University's Mathematics Education Centre, will test an assessment method that could offer a viable alternative to traditional marking practices.
Under the proposed system, examiners would be given two completed exams to mark, before being asked which of the pupils is 'the most able mathematician'. The outcomes of many such pairings would provide the basis for a statistically reliable rank order of students.
"The method is based on a longstanding psychological principle that people are very unreliable at making absolute judgements, but are highly reliable at making relative judgements of one thing with another," Dr Jones explained. "The project is timely because recent technological developments mean the method is only now viable for large scale educational assessment. The outcome of the work will be to provide evidence on how deep understanding of mathematics can be assessed fairly and reliably."For further information, please click here.