What's in a name? Experiments with blind marking in A-level examinations

A-level results have a substantial impact upon candidates' futures and it is crucial that the results are as fair as possible. Candidates' names appear on examination scripts and some have suggested that this could produce bias in the marking. Introduction of 'blind marking' in A-level examinations would be unwieldy and costly. Two experiments on blind marking were carried out: in A-level Chemistry and A-level English literature. In each study, presentation (and not the content) of 30 scripts was varied. Eight Chemistry A-level examiners and 16 English literature A-level examiners took part in the studies. Scripts were presented as blind or non-blind, with a male or female name and 'male' or 'female' handwriting. The studies addressed the issue of possible gender bias in marking and investigated whether blind marking could overcome gender bias. It was concluded that bias was not present in the marking and therefore no support was found for the introduction of blind marking in A-level examinations.

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