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Sue Bloxham

Personal details

Sue BloxhamJob title: Emeritus Professor
Highest qualification: PhD Educational Research (Lancaster University)

Sue is currently a Emeritus Professor in the Faculty’s Research Institute for Professional Learning in Education (RIPLE) following her retirement form the post of Director of the centre. She has taught in higher education for many years, developing a particular interest in action research related to assessment, active learning and widening participation. Sue is a National Teaching Fellow and has published widely, particularly in the field of Higher Education Assessment. Sue’s interest in assessment focuses particularly on how we manage our higher education assignments and examinations to support the achievement of students from under-represented groups. She has also researched and published on matters such as student skills development, group assessment, feedback, course design and marking. Her current work explores how academics use standards in their academic judgement, particularly external examiners, and how student understand academic judgement.

Email: s.bloxham@cumbria.ac.uk

Academic interests

Academic interests

  • Assessment in higher education
  • Academic standards
  • Using teaching and learning to support non-traditional students
  • Teaching and Learning for retention and achievement

Recent external roles

  • Member of the Impact and Evaluation Group of VITAE
  • Member of the advisory group developing the QAA Quality Code section on Assessment of students and accreditation of prior learning. (2013)
  • Member of the International Advisory Board HELO - Higher Education Learning Outcomes - Transforming Higher Education Project, Norway, (2012- date)
  • Assessment in Higher Education Conference (AHE) chair, (2008 – date)
  • National Teaching Fellowship (awarded 2007)
  • Society for Research in Higher Education (2007 to date)
  • Member of the Higher Education Academy’s Transforming Assessment Group
  • Member of the Feedback: Agenda for change expert group
  • External examining at 9 UK Universities from 1988 to date including PhD examining at the University of B’ham, Oxford Brookes, Leeds Metropolitan University & University of Wales.
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Practitioner Research in Higher Education (2007 to date)
  • British Educational Research Association (2005) and convenor of its Higher Education SIG (2010 to date)

Research activities

Current projects

  • External examiners' understanding and use of academic standards (in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University and jointly funded by the Higher Education Academy and the Quality Assurance Agency)
  • Students understanding of academic judgement

Selected outputs

  • Developing Effective Assessment in Higher Education: a practical guide. Open University Press (with P. Boyd) 2007

Selected journal articles

  • External examining: fit for purpose? Studies in Higher Education (published on line 6th Sept, 2013) with M. Price. DOI:10.1080/03075079.2013.823931
  • A Situative Metaphor for Teacher Learning: the case of university teachers learning to grade student coursework British Educational Research Journal (published on line April 2013) with P. Boyd. DOI: 10.1002/berj.3082
  • Making judgements about students making work: Lecturers’ assessment practices in art and design. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 2013 12: 234-253 (with S.Orr)
  • 'You can see the quality in front of your eyes': grounding academic standards between rationality and interpretation, Quality in Higher Education (2012) 18:2, 185-204
  • Accountability in grading student work: Securing academic standards in a 21st century quality assurance context. British Educational Research Journal, (2011) iFirst (with P. Boyd)
  • Mark my words: the role of assessment criteria in UK higher education grading practices Studies in Higher Education forthcoming 2011. (with P. Boyd and S.Orr)
  • Generating dialogue in assessment feedback: exploring the use of Interactive cover sheets. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 35: 3, 291 — 300 (2010)(with Campbell, E)
  • ‘What are we really trying to do with assessment in teacher education? - resolving conflicting purposes’ Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 2 (1) 13-21, 2008
  • ‘Learning to write in higher education: students’ perceptions of an intervention in developing understanding of assessment criteria’. Teaching in Higher Education 2007, 12, 1, 77-89 (with A West)
  • ‘Embedding Personal Development Planning into the Social Sciences, context’ Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences 2, (3) 191-206 (2005) with A. Slight
  • ‘Understanding the Rules of the Game: marking peer assessment as a medium for developing students’ conceptions’ of assessment’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 29 (6) pp 721-733 (with A. West) 2004

Chapters in books and conference proceedings

  • ‘Assessing assessment: optimising practice’ in H. Fry, S.Marshall and S.Ketteridge (in press 2014) A handbook for learning and teaching in higher education: enhancing academic practice (4th Edn) London: Routledge
  • 'Building 'standards' frameworks': the role of guidance and feedback in supporting the achievement of learners' in S. Merry et all, Reconceptualising Feedback in Higher Education (2013), London: Routledge
  • 'Helping Sports Studies Students understand the rules of the game: a case study in raising student achievement in writing' in Rust, C (Ed) Improving Student Learning: Diversity and Inclusivity. Oxford Centre for Staff and learning Development. (with A. West) 2005

Invited seminars and conference keynotes

  • Invited lectures in 6 universities in Australia and New Zealand, (Nov-Dec 2013)
  • Investigating the mismatch between the policy and practice of assessment judgement in higher education, Cambridge Assessment Seminar (Nov 2013)
  • Invited contributor, National Union of Students Education Conference, Manchester, 31st (October 2013)
  • Understanding the rules of the game: helping students really grasp what we are looking for when we mark, Keynote lecture at University of West London Teaching and Learning Conference (June 2013)
  • Assessment which works: enhancing student learning without killing the tutors. Keynote Lecture at Anglia Ruskin University Learning and Teaching Conference, (June 2013)
  • Fair and accurate marking of student work (including CTM projects): Some important questions and a few answers! Seminar for University of Liverpool Medical School. (2013)
  • External examining: meeting the challenges of a 21st century role, for NUCCAT, Manchester (2013)
  • Developing and diversifying assessment to enhance student learning, keynote lecture to conference of internal and external examiners, Royal Veterinary College (2013)
  • Fit for purpose: diversifying assessment to meet the needs of a 21st century university education, workshop for Lancaster University Dept of Health Sciences.(2012)
  • Queen Mary, University of London, 'Understanding the rules of the game: helping students really grasp what we are looking for when we mark', April 2012
  • Assessment: Research and Innovation for Inclusive Practice Conference, Keynote lecture, University of Central Lancashire, July 2010
  • University of the Highlands and Islands, keynote lecture, Staff Conference in Learning and Teaching (May 2010)
  • University of Aston Seminar on assessment research April 2010
  • Liverpool University Assessment, student learning and feedback; keynote lecture, March 2010
  • Manchester Metropolitan University, Challenging Assessment Initiative conference, keynote lecture, September 2009.
  • Teesside University, The myths of marking in higher education: Some important questions and a few answers! Staff seminar, September 2009
  • University of Portsmouth, Developing Effective Assessment in Higher Education, Seminar, May 2009.
  • University of Sunderland Feedback Colloquium, March 2009.
  • Using assessment to support the achievement of diverse learners, keynote lecture, Cumbria Study of HE Network assessment conference Carlisle, 9th July 2008.
  • How can we use assessment to support transitions into and through higher education, keynote lecture, Solstice Conference, Edge Hill University, June 2008
  • Assessment: measurement, accountability or learning, keynote lecture, University of Kent Staff conference, Canterbury, May 2008.
  • What are we really trying to do with assessment in teacher education? - resolving conflicting purposes. Keynote lecture, ESCalate assessment seminar, 16th April 2008, University of Gloucestershire
  • Higher education assessment practice as we know it: Can it and should it survive Liverpool Hope University pedagogical research seminar, February 2008
  • The central role of dialogue with tutors in students’ perceptions of how they come to understand assessment requirements and feedback. Paper to the Literacy Research Centre, Seminar Series, University of Lancaster. March 2005 (with A. West)
  • Active methods to accelerate students’ understanding of the demands of HE assessment, workshop for Chester College of HE Learning and Teaching Conference, May 2004
  • Theories of Organisation and Managing Change - the manager's role in developing and improving practice. Keynote lecture, National Youth Agency Women managers' Seminar, March 1994

Conference papers

  • External Examiners’ Standards Examined: The practice of external examining in the contemporary quality assurance context of higher education Society for Research in Higher Education Annual Conference, Celtic Manor, Wales, December 2013 (with M. Price, J. Hudson, B. den Outer)
  • Can independent (external) examiners make a useful contribution to assuring inter-university academic standards in higher education? Australian Association of Research in Education Conference, Adelaide, Australia, December 1st-5th 2013 (with M. Price, J. Hudson, B. den Outer)
  • Developing staff for marking and external examining: using the research and thinking creatively. Paper presented at the Staff and Educational Development Association Conference, Bristol (Nov 2013) (with M.Price, J. Hudson and B.D-Outer.)
  • Examining the examiners: investigating the understanding and use of academic standards in assessment, 4th Assessment in Higher Education Conference, Birmingham, June 2013 (with M. Price, J. Hudson, B. den Outer)
  • You can see the quality in front of your eyes: grounding academic standards between rationality and interpretation, paper presented to the European Association for research in learning and instruction Assessment SIG conference, Brussels, 28-31 August 2012 
  • Failure of theory: academic standards and assessment in the academy, paper presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WI, USA, 20-23 October 2011
  • Mark my words: An analysis of HE lecturers’ essay marking approaches Society for Research in Higher Education Annual Conference South Wales, 8th – 10th December 2009 (with P.Boyd, M.Ashworth and S.Orr)
  • Creating a feedback-dialogue: exploring the use of interactive coversheets, International Improving Student Learning Symposium, Durham University, 1st-3rd September 2008 (with L. Campbell)
  • “Say it to me…the way I can understand”: Students’ perceptions of assignment information and feedback’. Paper presented to the Northumbria SIG Assessment Conference 30th August – 1st Sept 2006
  • 'From Fragmentation to Integration'. 1st European Conference on the First Year Experience. University of Teesside 26-28th April 2006 (with J. Inman).
  • ‘Embedding Careers Advice and Personal Development Planning into the Social Sciences’ paper to the 9th Quality in Higher Education International Seminar: Enhancing Student Employability, 27th-28th January 2005 (with A. Slight)

Web publications