Case study: Be The Examiner

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Marking made fun: encouraging students to self-assess their work and develop their confidence in answering exam questions.

The big idea

To make an interactive revision session that allows GCSE and A-Level students to play the role of the examiner.

I realised that the project could make the students more proactive in decision making, which is a skill you can use in every aspect of life.

Elisabeth Protopapa Creator of Be The Examiner

Why it’s needed

Dr Elisabeth Protopapa, a chemistry teacher at Leeds Sixth Form College, finds that her students have little understanding of how their exams are marked.

In her role as an examiner for GCSE Biology, Elisabeth was surprised to find that she didn’t need a full understanding of the subject to mark the papers. She asked herself, “why are we not teaching our students the same methods?”. She believed that if she could break down the exam marking process, she could take away a lot of the fear of answering the question.

Elisabeth found that attendance to revision sessions was virtually non-existent. She believes this is due to students having low confidence, and for fear of showing their peers that they have fallen behind. When talking to her colleagues, she realised that many teachers feel that marking exams takes up a lot of valuable time. Elisabeth decided to think outside the box and, with the help of SHINE funding, came up with an innovative way to approach exam questions.

I’ve been on the other side where there’s 30 books to mark every week. Be The Examiner not only gives independence to the students to mark their own work and better understand the marking criteria, but it also supports teachers with their workload.

Elisabeth Protopapa Creator of Be The Examiner

How it works

Elisabeth’s students were anxious about exams, and as an examiner herself, she knew there was a better way to deliver revision sessions. She created an activity where her students take on the role of the examiner, first identifying key words and breaking down what the question is asking for, and then giving mock answers a score out of 6, using the mark scheme.

Elisabeth noticed that students are generous in awarding the higher marks and are often surprised to see the actual grade is much lower than expected. The collaborative sessions encourage the students to work as a team and develop their decision-making skills.

The impact

Elisabeth has seen a significant improvement in the confidence of her students in understanding what makes a high scoring answer.

  • Her students are now able to confidently answer exam questions
  • Her high-achieving students are now achieving the higher grades, a significant improvement for her college, which averages a grade 4 (equivalent to a C)
  • Students have reported feeling more confident in answering exam questions, and they feel more able to approach exams in other subjects using this method
  • Teachers have saved valuable marking time as the students have taken greater responsibility for their own marking
  • The group activity helps students to realise they are not alone in their anxiety surrounding exams

Elisabeth hopes to share her project with other schools, both to help students with their understanding of exams, and to help relieve teachers’ workload around marking.

Elisabeth hopes to share her project with other schools, both to help students with their understanding of exams, and to help relieve teachers’ workload around marking.