N. Shapland, D. Nulty

Griffith University (AUSTRALIA)
This paper describes the use of consensus moderation for quality assurance of academic standards in a way that engages academics in more than simple marking moderation practices.

A key question in Higher Education is: how are academic standards set and maintained? A systematic approach to the moderation of assessment, whilst recognised as a key factor for assuring academic standards, does not currently exist in the Higher Education sector in Australia (DEST, 2002). This is in contrast to the Secondary School system (Maxwell , 2007; Klenowski and Wyatt –Smith, 2010).

Following Sadler (2010), Griffith University has developed and implemented a multilevel model for assurance of academic standards, founded on ‘social ‘or ‘consensus moderation’ principles (Nulty 2011; 2012). Academics engage in peer review processes across a time line of five core academic activities to reach a shared understanding about quality:

1: Course-Level Assessment Planning
Ensures appropriateness, alignment with intended learning outcomes and clarity in the specification of all the assessment tasks used.
2: Marking Students’ Work
Ensures appropriate standards are used and consistently applied when judging the level of learning achievement demonstrated by students’ work.
3: Grading Students’ Work
Ensures grades awarded to students validly reflect their overall level of learning achievement, - illustrated by the full collection of their assessment work for that course.
4: Standards Across Courses (Internal and External)
Ensures achievement standards required of students in one course are comparable to those required in other cognate courses (at the same and other Institutions).
5: Standards Over Time
Ensures achievement standards applied to students’ work are consistent over time.

Implementation of this model was promoted through changes in Assessment Policy and e-Course Profile systems. The approach ensures both quality and consistency (comparability) of academic standards (Nulty, 2011). The paper elaborates on how the model works and advocates for broader implementation in other institutions.

Department of Education, Science & Training (DEST) 2002, Striving for Quality: Learning teaching & scholarship

Klenowski, V., & Wyatt-Smith, C.M. (2010). Standards, teacher judgement & moderation in contexts of national curriculum & assessment reform. Assessment Matters, 2, 107-131.

Maxwell, G. S. (2007). Implications for moderation of proposed changes to senior
secondary school syllabuses. Brisbane: Queensland Studies Authority

Nulty, D. D. (2011) Quality assurance of assessment through consensus moderation: A reporting framework for institutional engagement. Paper presented at the Annual Conference for The Society for Research in Higher Education, December 7-9, Newport, Wales.

Nulty, D. D. (2012) Assuring Academic Standards by Building Trust in Academics Judgements: Development & Implementation of an Institution-Wide Framework. Paper presented at the Ireland International Conference for Education. Dublin. April 16-18.

Sadler, D. R. (2010) Assuring Academic Achievement Standards at Griffith University. Discussion Document, June 2010.