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Professor Sally Jordan

Profile summary

  • Head of School
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • sally.jordan

Professional biography

I am Professor of Physics Education and Head of the Open University's School of Physical Sciences in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM), having previously been Head of the Department of Physical Sciences in the Science Faculty and the Science Faculty's Deputy Associate Dean with responsibility for Assessment.

My primary interests lie in developing the skills, especially the mathematical skills, which physics and other science students require for their study, and in sophisticated computer-marked assessment and the links between assessment and learning.

I was fortunate to have teaching fellowships with the two of the Open University's Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs). I was academic advisor on e-assessment to the Virtual Learning Environment Team and continue to work, in partnership with eSTEeM and the OpenScience Laboratory, on various projects with are evaluating the impact of our assessment practice on our students. I am on the organising committee for the international Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) Conference and have recently initiated a collaboration between AHE and the Transforming Assessment webinar series.

I have a BSc in Physics and a PhD by published work with the title E-assessment for learning? Exploring the potential of computer-marked assessment and computer-generated feedback, from short-answer questions to assessment analytics. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

My principal interests are:

  • Factors affecting student engagement with assessment (in particular e-assessment) and feedback;
  • The appropriate use of sophisticated e-assessment items, in particular short-answer free-text questions, and the reasons for the limited take-up of items of this type;
  • Students' conceptual understanding in mathematics and physics, including the use of concept inventories and demographic differences in attainment.

Teaching interests

My primary interests lie in developing the skills, espeically the mathematical skills, which physics and other science students require for their study, and in the links between assessment and learning.

I was the main author of Maths for science (first published 2002, revised edition published Sept 2012, in copublication with Oxford University Press) which forms the basis of the highly success module with the same name (S151).

I was the first academic at the Open University to use sophisticated online computer-marked assessment, , driven by a wish to provide students with instantaeous feedback on their work and to help them to pace their study. This led to the development of the OpenMark interactive online assessment system and of much of the current functionality of the Moodle Quiz Engine. A later project led to the development of the "Pattern Match" question type, which automatically marks and gives feedback on free-text answers of up to about 20 words. I have advised widely on the appropriate use of e-assessment and in particular on the use of short-answer free text e-assessment questions.

I was a member of the  production teams for S154 Science starts here and S104 Exploring science. I had responsibility for maths skills development and assessment in both modules and was author of  a book about 'Energy and light' for S104.I was also a member of the module teams that produced SXR103 Practising science, S141 Investigative and mathematical skills in science and MST224 Mathematical methods.

I was awarded an Open University Teaching Award in 2006 for my work in developing the first edition of S151 Maths for Science and its interactive online assessment system, and in 2010 and 2011 I was one of the OU's nominees for a National Teaching Fellowship.

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