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Professor 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 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 a member of the  production teams for S154 Science starts here and S104 Exploring science. I had responsibility for maths skills development and eAssessment in both modules and was author of  a book about 'Energy and light' for S104. I was involved in the development of the OpenMark interactive online assessment system, driven by a wish to provide students with instantaeous feedback on their work and to help them to pace their study. 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 also a member of the module teams that produced S141 Investigative and mathematical skills in science (first presentation October 2012) and MST224 Mathematical methods (first presentation October 2013).

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.

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Ogden Science Officer / Citizen Science Research Fellow

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Sep/201531/Aug/2018The Ogden Trust
The Ogden Trust is providing matched funding to a maximum of £75k for 3 years for an 0.5 FTE outreach post, that we can add to the ASTERICS post and can therefore recruit a full-time postdoctoral research assistant.


Developing academics' assessment practices in open, distance and e-learning: an institutional change agenda (2016-07)
Evans, Jessica; Jordan, Sally and Wolfenden, Freda
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 31(2) (pp. 91-107)
I wish I could believe you: the frustrating unreliability of some assessment research (2016)
Hunt, Tim and Jordan, Sally
Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 10(1) (pp. 13-21)
在线测评:过去,现在和未来 [E-assessment: past, present and future] (2015)
Jordan, Sally
Journal of Beijing Radio and Television University , 94(6) (pp. 8-18)
Using e-assessment to learn about students and learning (2014)
Jordan, Sally
International Journal of e-Assessment, 4(1)
Adult science learners’ mathematical mistakes: an analysis of responses to computer-marked questions. (2014)
Jordan, Sally
European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2(2) (pp. 63-86)
E-assessment: past, present and future (2013)
Jordan, Sally
New Directions, 9(1) (pp. 87-106)
Student engagement with assessment and feedback: some lessons from short-answer free-text e-assessment questions (2012)
Jordan, Sally
Computers & Education, 58(2) (pp. 818-834)
Same but different, but is it fair? An analysis of the use of variants of interactive computer-marked questions (2012)
Jordan, Sally; Jordan, Helen and Jordan, Richard
International Journal of e-Assessment, 2(1)
Using interactive computer-based assessment to support beginning distance learners of science (2011-06)
Jordan, Sally
Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 26(2) (pp. 147-164)
A comparison of human and computer marking of short free-text student responses (2010)
Butcher, Philip G. and Jordan, Sally E.
Computers and Education, 55(2) (pp. 489-499)
Interactive screen experiments: innovative virtual laboratories for distance learners (2009-07)
Hatherly, P.A.; Jordan, S.E. and Cayless, A.
European Journal of Physics, 30(4) (pp. 751-762)
e-Assessment for learning? The potential of short-answer free-text questions with tailored feedback (2009)
Jordan, Sally and Mitchell, Tom
British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2) (pp. 371-385)
Assessment for learning: pushing the boundaries of computer-based assessment (2009)
Jordan, Sally
Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 3(1) (pp. 11-19)
Online interactive assessment with short free-text questions and tailored feedback (2008)
Jordan, Sally
New Directions, 4 (pp. 17-20)
Mathematics assessment at a distance (2003-07)
Jordan, Sally; Butcher, Philip and Ross, Shelagh
MathStore: Maths CAA Series
Online instantaneous and targeted feedback for remote learners (2006-02)
Ross, Shelagh; Jordan, Sally and Butcher, Philip
In: Bryan, Cordelia and Clegg, Karen eds. Innovative assessment in Higher Education (pp. 123-131)
ISBN : 9780415356411 | Publisher : Routledge/Taylor and Francis
A review of a faculty-wide change in assessment practice for open and distance learners of science. (2014)
Jordan, Sally
In : 8th EDEN Research Workshop: Challenged for Research into Open & Distance Learning: Doing Things Better-Doing Better Things (27-28 October 2014, Oxford, UK)
Using e-assessment to learn about learning (2013-07)
Jordan, Sally
In : 2013 International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference (9-10 July 2013, Southampton)
Does the Sun orbit the Earth? Challenges in using short free-text computer-marked questions (2013)
Jordan, Sally and Butcher, Philip
In : HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013: Where Practice and Pedagogy Meet (17-18 April 2013, Birmingham, UK)
Short-answer e-assessment questions : five years on (2012)
Jordan, Sally
In : 2012 International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference (10-11 July 2012, Southampton)
Same but different, but is it fair? An analysis of the use of variants of interactive computer-marked questions (2011)
Jordan, Sally; Jordan, Helen and Jordan, Richard
In : 2011 International Computer Assisted Assesment Conference (5th-6th July 2011, Southampton)
Using e-assessment to support distance learners of science (2010)
Jordan, Sally and Butcher, Philip
In : The GIREP-EPEC & PHEC 2009 International Conference (17-21 Aug 2009, Leicester, UK)
An investigation into the use of e-assessment to support student learning (2009)
Jordan, Sally
In : Second Assessment in Higher Education Conference (08 July 2009, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, UK)
eAssessment and the independent learner (2009)
Butcher, P. G.; Swithenby, S. J. and Jordan, S. E.
In : M-2009: Proceedings of the 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education including the 2009 EADTU Annual Conference (7-10 Jun 2009, Maastricht, NL)
Supporting open learners by computer based assessment with short free-text responses and tailored feedback (2008)
Swithenby, Stephen and Jordan, Sally
In : 2nd International Multi-Conference on Society, Cybernetics and Informatics (29 Jun - 02 Jul 2008, Orlando, Florida)
Computer based assessment with short free responses and tailored feedback (2007)
Jordan, Sally
In : Proceedings of the Science Learning and Teaching Conference 2007, Higher Education Academy, ISBN 978-1-905788-2. (19th-20th June 2007, Keele University)
Extending the pedagogic role of on line interactive assessment: providing feedback on short free-text responses (2007)
Jordan, Sally; Brockbank, Barbara and Butcher, Philip
In : REAP International Online Conference on Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility (29-31 May 2007)
Moodle: enhancing the assessment capabilities of the leading open source virtual learning environment (2006)
Sclater, Niall; Butcher, Philip; Thomas, Pete and Jordan, Sally
In : Proceedings of the 10th CAA International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference (4-5 July 2006, Loughborough University, England)
The mathematical misconceptions of adult distance-learning science students (2006)
Jordan, Sally
In : CETL-MSOR Conference, 2006 (11-12 Sep 2006, Loughborough University)
Online summative assessment with feedback as an aid to effective learning at a distance (2005)
Jordan, Sally and Swithenby, Stephen
In : Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Improving Student Learning : Diversity and inclusivity. (06-08 Sep 2004, Birmingham)

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