Experience of EMA: Sophie Harrington

Sophie HarringtonRole: Student, BA English Literature


Previous experience of electronic management of assessment:

Before EMA modules, my assessments consisted of one large piece of work handed in at the end of a module, which thus led to an intense, highly pressurised period at the end of every term. Before being able to receive my grades online, I had to travel onto Campus on a specific day at a specific time to receive my results. This was inflexible and time-consuming, and must have been particularly annoying for the students who don’t live in the Reading area—especially if they had no classes that day yet had to travel in simply to pick up feedback.


What I like about EMA:

  • It has really enhanced my learning experience. In fact, it is the modules that have used EMA that I feel most accomplished in. With EMA, assessments can take the format of shorter, more regular pieces of work. Rather than one larger piece of work handed in at the end of term, my EMA modules have compromised of regular blog posts and weekly journal entries. This has benefited me in many ways. Foremost, it has ensured I reflect upon every week of learning. With traditional, one-essay paper-style assessments, only one or two texts are focussed upon in solitary study and assessment preparation. Consequently, my understanding of these modules after completion is much less comprehensive. My EMA modules on the other hand have required me to engage thoroughly with each and every text, and thus my long-term overall understanding of the modules is significantly better.
  • EMA modules have allowed me to see my growth over the module period. From my first posts to my last, EMA has allowed me to read back over the pieces I’ve written throughout the term and recognise how I’ve improved.
  • EMA modules distribute assessment pressure throughout the module, rather than creating an intensely stressful period towards the end. With traditional assessments, a large, singular piece of work must be handed in, which must represent your engagement and improvement throughout the entire-module period. This is not the case with EMA.
  • Allows us to receive our result online. A lot of anxiety is present amongst the cohort when collecting grades—of course we want to know our grades immediately, but opening them in front of everyone is daunting. By both detailed feedback and overall results available online, it is much less likely we’ll be in a situation in which comparison is possible, allowing us to focus on our grades and achievements rather than simply viewing them comparatively.
  • All our electronic marks and comments are in one place. This is particularly useful when preparing to submit more work. If in the library, I can simply open Blackboard and see what I’m consistently praised on, and what is often pinpointed as needing work. This stops me having to run home and frantically search through the mounds of paper collected over a three-year period.

What I’ve found more challenging:

  • This system of receiving feedback has been rather problem-free for me. The only slight inconvenience is the elementary nature of the journal, meaning proper formatting is difficult. However, this is easily overcome by writing and formatting the document in Word before transferring (through copy and paste) it over to the journal entry page.

My top tip for EMA beginners:

  • If you need any help, just ask your seminar teacher or module convener. The system is quite simple once you understand it so it will take them hardly any time to explain.
  • Talk to your friends! If you’re having any problems formatting, they probably will have had too, and you can work on it together to figure it out.

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