NextGen: HN – Developing and implementing grading models

September 26, 2022 - SQA - Categories: Grading

NextGen: HN

Walter Patterson, Subject Implementation Manager for Computing, comments on the development and implementation of the grading model for the NextGen: HNC Computing qualification.

The pathway to achieving a valid and reliable approach to grading leads me to reflect on how the grade will represent the individual learner. There is a lot to consider. Would it be the extent to which the required learning in the course has taken place? Or the quality of the learner’s work in their assessment submissions? Or could it be the extent to which they have evidenced desirable personal and professional qualities throughout their studies?

Alongside my knowledge of learners, I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations with them about grading. It was clear that they expect their course grade to reward them fairly for the full range of work they produce, while distinguishing between individuals who did the minimum to pass and those who produced high quality work. They expect their grades to be recognised by employers and university admissions alike as an indicator that they expect the holder of an enhanced grade to perform well at his/her next stage.

The expectations of learners suggest the need for a grading system that takes account of work produced during the course, as well as formal assessment evidence. This type of grading system would require different weight being given to each element and needs careful consideration for it to be operated in a consistent and reliable manner.

It’s crucial that everyone understands the objectives and processes of the grading system. Learners will need to understand what they must do to achieve an elevated grade, and the standard by which their performance will be judged. Course tutors will need to understand the need for exemplification of standards and moderation of grading judgements.  It will be important that all stakeholders have confidence that the system is transparent and fair in its operation.

Therefore, when developing the grading framework for the NextGen: HNC Computing, we will take careful consideration of the views of course tutors, learners, and additional stakeholders along with the various requirements of the mandatory and optional units. We will draw on SQA’s experience in policy, assessment and standards while examining good practice from other countries and education sectors.  Finally, we aim to ensure that the grading system works in harmony with the various course assignments and arrangements for final assessments.

The whole qualification grade will be awarded on completion of the course and its assessments. However, the grading model we intend to adopt will hopefully encourage learners to identify and submit their best work, and therefore provide feedback to students on their progress throughout the course.