The importance of formative assessment has been widely evidenced; but it has also been shown to be under threat in a higher education world of shrinking finances, increasing student numbers and decreasing student/staff ratios. How is all this formative assessment to be carried out and marked? And at the same time, how is the concept of â€˜qualityâ€™ to be conveyed to the students? D. Royce Sadler has written widely about the value of using exemplars as a means of showing what quality is; this article explores the use of exemplars alongside peer assessment as part of a mixed approach to formative assessment, and provides evaluation and feedback from the first-year students involved. It reinforces Sadlerâ€™s own conclusion that exemplars can convey messages in a way that nothing else can, and suggests that a mixed approach to formative assessment - involving peer as well as tutor marking, together with the use of exemplars - could provide both an effective and efficient way forward.
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