Monday, 8 April 2013

Perceptions of trust in public examinations

an article by Lucy Simpson (University of Bristol, UK) and Jo-Anne Baird (University of Oxford, UK) published in Oxford Review of Education Volume 39 Issue 1 (February 2013)


Over recent years, the credibility of public examinations in England has increasingly come to the fore.

Government agencies have invested time and money into researching public perceptions of the reliability and validity of examinations. Whilst such research overlaps into the conceptual domain of trust, trust in examinations remains an elusive concept. Little is known about what it means to trust in examinations and on what individuals base their trust judgements.

This paper reports the findings of research into key stakeholders’ perceptions of trust in the English A-level examination system through a series of focus groups comprising (separately) of examination board staff, students, higher education admissions tutors, teachers and the general public.

Analysis of the data revealed a number of factors that are integral to the concept of trust in A-levels, including examination standards, the marking of examination papers, the syllabus, communication and provision of information, whether A-levels are fit for purpose and the mode of assessment.

The fact stakeholders have different expectations and requirements of the A-level system, which are subject to change, means that it is difficult for the A-level system to engender the trust of all of its users all of the time.

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