Expectancies, marking and feedback in undergraduate student assessment

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research explores how expectancies related to student gender and ethnic origin (as derived from the name) might impact on the feedback received on assignments. Calls for anonymous marking on the basis of biased marking practices according to gender and ethnicity have been long standing and widespread. However research into this area has generally lacked methodological rigour, produced equivocal findings, and solely been concerned with grade bias. Therefore, using a mixed methods research methodology, this thesis focused on the feedback provided. Sixty sports academics agreed to mark and provide feedback on two first year undergraduate student essays. In-text feedback was text-to-text transcribed, coded utilising an existing analytical framework and content analysed. Summary feedback was hierarchically content analysed using established guidelines. In-text feedback provided more evidence for expectancy effects specifically in relation to White British females when compared to White British males and Asian females when compared to Asian males. There was also evidence that non-White British names were provided with less useful and educative feedback than their White counterparts. Summary feedback revealed less evidence of expectancy effects at work and sometimes contradicted the in-text feedback findings. Findings are discussed in relation to feedback quality, marker variability, marking as a social practice and the anonymous marking debate.
Date of Award1 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorEric Anderson (Supervisor) & Tansy Jessop (Supervisor)


  • expectancies
  • bias
  • feedback
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • assessment
  • marking

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