Using comparative judgement for GCSE composing


Picture taken from David Didau’s blog

A few weeks ago I went on a session run by Daisy Christodoulou, author of Seven Myths about Education and Making Good Progress? The Future of Assessment for Learning. Daisy now works for No More Marking, a company offering an online engine for comparative judgement.

I will not describe CJ in detail here, other than reproducing the image above, and direct you to the excellent demo on the No More Marking website. The arguments for it are very compelling.

So far, No More Marking has been used for CJ of English and History texts. I don’t know of the system being tried for music compositions as yet, but I think it would be really interesting to try it out. The process would be a little bit more complex and time-consuming than for text, purely because you would need to listen to audio rather than skim texts on-screen, but I still think it would be a worthwhile thing to try.

I would like to invite you to join in with this process. Here is how it would work:

  1. You need to contact me to tell me you’d like to join in. Probably the easiest way to do this is to email me on You might be a GCSE music teacher with coursework of your own that you’d like to get moderated, or a music educator who would just like to join in with doing the comparative judgements (the more judges, the better…). If this proves massively popular, I might need to put a cap on the amount of coursework we can handle, as it will be quite a lot of admin for me to do!
  2. You will need to send me some GCSE compositions in mp3 format. Just audio, no supporting documentation. This might be your whole cohort, or just a selection. It could be ‘live’ (i.e. this year’s coursework), or a previous year’s. It doesn’t matter what board you do, or whether it’s to a brief or free composition – for the purposes of CJ I don’t think this is important. We will need to set a deadline for this – I suggest Sunday 8th April. 
  3. I will then anonymise your coursework and create a Google folder with it all in, referred to only by a number (only I will know how the numbers link up with the schools/candidates they came from). You will receive an allocation of comparative judgements to make. These will be entirely randomised. The numbers for these will pop up on your screen via the No More Marking website. You listen to each pair of compositions and decide which one is better – just using your guild knowledge as a musician and educator (no mark schemes involved). Click on your decision and move on to the next until your allocation is finished (nobody will need to make more than 20 comparisons). The ‘window’ for doing this will be the fortnight between Monday 9th April and Sunday 22nd April (to give you a week of holiday and a week of term time to choose from).
  4. The No More Marking algorithm will crunch all the results and award a numerical mark to each composition. If you have contributed coursework, I will feed back to you the marks for your students’ work.
  5. I will ask you to complete a short online questionnaire about the process, to find out what issues arose, and what you thought about the results.
  6. I will then write up a summary on here about how it all went.

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