Carry on examining: what predicts examiners' intentions to continue examining?

AQA is highly reliant on a large body of examiners who are crucial in ensuring that candidates receive timely and reliable results for their high-stakes examinations. As such, the potential ramifications of low examiner satisfaction are significant. This study aimed to investigate the factors which predicted whether an examiner intended to continue examining for AQA. Examiners (n = 1,368) took part in a postal questionnaire survey concerned with their experiences of examining, and their intentions to continue examining. Most examiners (over 85%) indicated that they were likely to continue examining for AQA. There does not appear to have been a significant increase or decrease in overall intentions to continue examining compared to similar previous work performed by Meadows (2004). Factor analysis of 32 questionnaire items suggested three factors underpinned examiners’ intentions to continue examining: 1) the relationship between examining work and work outside examining, 2) the pressures of examining and the support received from AQA, and 3) the incentives to examine. All three factors were significantly correlated with intention to continue examining, and are consistent with the findings of previous research by Meadows (2004). Examiners’ responses to questions about recruitment and retention were also analysed. Although there seems to be no immediate threat to examiner retention, the study highlights areas which may impact on examiner retention in the future. For example, there appear to be continuing difficulties for examiners in accepting and adjusting to the move towards online standardisation. Similarly, the results indicate that conflicts between examining work and other employment may discourage examiners to continue examining as they may feel unsupported or undervalued by AQA.

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