Mary McGee Wood - Assessment and Feedback - Training and Consultancy

Answers: closed or open?

Is the answer to a question closed - where there is one correct answer, which can be defined in a "model answer", even if its expression varies - or open - where only a "marking scheme" giving criteria for evaluating an answer can be specified in advance, and originality is a virtue? What are the implications for marking and feedback?

An interesting intermediate case (a favourite of mine in my teaching days) is "Give an original example of...". Here by definition the space of acceptable possibilities is open, but each answer will be clearly right or wrong. (What is more, the most original answers may well be the best, as they can show genuine understanding of the principle.)