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Assessment, Moderation and Results

Assessment

Assessments include, but are not limited to: assignments, in-term tests, oral presentations, online quizzes and examinations. Section 1.1.1 of the Assessment Guideline 2016 January 01 specifies that each 3 credit point unit should have a minimum of two assessments and a maximum of four assessments (with three assessments preferred). The assessment volume for units with higher credit points should be scaled up proportionately.

The Internationalisation Policy requires that “comparable standards be applied to the assessment of learning outcomes of all students, and the units will be moderated when delivered transnationally, consistent with contractual arrangements with Transnational Partner.” Section 2.5 of the Assessment Policy 2016 August 01 specifies that a “Unit Coordinator must ensure equivalent assessments when a unit is offered in differing modes of attendance and/or locations.” Section 14 of the Assessment Guideline 2016 January 01 states that this does not necessarily mean that the assessments must be identical, and defines equivalent assessment as “ones where each is of equal value, worth or importance to the assessor in making judgements about a learner’s achievements or performance against the same Learning Outcomes.” When a unit is offered in differing modes or locations, there may be valid reasons for varying assessment. In this case, Unit Coordinators should consult Attachment 1 of the Assessment Guideline 2016 January 01: Comparability Framework.

Unit Coordinators are responsible for developing all ‘continuing’ assessment materials as per The Assessment Policy 2016 August 01. When developing assessments, no one assessment component may account for more than 70% of the final mark (s2.1.2) and at least 30% of assessable work must be Supervised Assessment (s2.1.3). Students may be awarded marks for participation provided that the criteria by which they are graded are clearly set out in the Unit Guide and the participation weighting does not exceed 15% of the total assessment weightings (s2.1.7). Section 2.1.5 of the Assessment Policy states that "Where it is necessary in terms of the overall design of the unit, the Unit Coordinator may choose to require students to attempt and submit (but not necessarily pass) all assessment items (including the final exam), in order to be considered for a passing grade in the unit. Such a requirement, together with a rationale and a clearly stated provision for discretion to be exercised when a student is unable to comply, must be set out in the Unit Information and Learning Guide and/or on the unit website."

It is imperative that students are provided with clear details on all assessment requirements, including assessment type and the weighting and standard of work required in order to be awarded a particular mark or grade. This information should appear in the Unit Information and Learning Guide and/or Unit LMS site and any change to the published requirements must be clearly communicated to students by no later than the end of the second week of Trimester (Assessment Policy 2016 August 01 ss5.1.1; 6.1). Any changes to the make-up of assessments that are proposed after the end of the second week are only permitted in exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the relevant School’s Associate Dean Learning and Teaching (s5.1.2). Students should also be clearly made aware of the use of formal moderation and its rationale (s2.7 Assessment Procedure 2016 August 01).

The TNE White Paper recommends that the Unit Coordinator considers the use of innovative and creative methods of assessment appropriate to the TNE context for assessment and assignment marking, and that all assessment items should be created following appropriate dialogue with the Affiliate Lecturer(s). Unit Coordinators will need to set the deadline for each assessment piece in consideration of the TNE Calendar when developing unit materials for any given teaching period, as well as outline all respective deadlines in the Unit Guide.

Section 5.1.4 of the Assessment Policy 2016 August 01 states that online submission is the preferred mode of submission and that requirements relating to the submission of all items of assessment should be clearly stated in the Unit Information and Learning Guide. Section 2.1.10 of the Assessment Policy states the importance of students being aware of the date “when they should expect to receive feedback for each assessment item,” and this should be set in consultation with the Affiliate Lecturer. “Where this is in excess of three weeks from the due date, the approval of the School Learning and Teaching Committee is required.”

It is the Unit Coordinator’s responsibility to communicate their teaching and learning expectations of the unit to the Affiliate Lecturer(s). This includes, but is not limited to, guidance on: assessment and delivery methods; standard of student work; and amount of feedback required on assignments. Section 3 of the Assessment Guideline 2016 January 01 states that feedback should be “critical, but supportive to learning, so as to encourage a student’s confident scrutiny of their future work,” (s3.1.1c). Feedback should go beyond simply editing grammar etc, and should be “related to Learning Outcomes and assessment criteria, so that students are very clear on what was and will be expected of them,” (s3.1.1d). It is important that Unit Coordinators also clearly outline their expectations on marking deadlines/timeliness of assignment return to Affiliate Lecturers so that moderation can occur in a timely manner. In turn, the Affiliate Lecturer is expected to clearly communicate this information about assessment methods, due dates, assessment weighting and teacher expectations regarding assignment standards to their students.

Affiliate Lecturers should commence marking assignments immediately after the assessment piece is due, marking consistently with the marking guide. They must mark the assignments fairly, and maintain the confidentiality of the students’ submitted work and grades (s3.1, Assessment Procedure 2016 August 01). All continuing assessments are marked by Affiliate Lecturers in accordance with the applicable marking guide, except for Multiple Choice Questionnaires (MCQ) of more than 10 papers which can be marked electronically. In this case, these papers should be sent to the Unit Coordinator in Perth who will organise for the papers to be marked. MCQs with less than 10 papers will be marked by the affiliate unless otherwise instructed by the Unit Coordinator. All final examinations will be sent to the Exams Office who will arrange distribution, unless the exam was held in Dubai where the Affiliate Lecturer will mark all assessments including the final examination. (Note: if the final examination in Dubai is a MCQ, it is recommended to follow the guide mentioned previously in this paragraph.)

Moderation

"Moderation is a quality assurance strategy directed at ensuring the reliability and validity of assessment. It is a process of independently evaluating whether there is consistency in the standard of marking being applied across particular assessment components or whether significant deviations have occurred from some previously defined standard. It is normally applied in situations where there is potential for the validity of assessment results to be compromised, or where extra reassurance on the validity of assessment outcomes is required.” Moderation is compulsory in all TNE units and should ideally be considered when designing a unit and its assessments (s6.8 Assessment Policy 2016 August 01; s 3.3 Assessment Guideline 2016 January 01).

It is the responsibility of both School Deans and Unit Coordinators to make themselves aware of what partnership agreements apply to the units under their management and the moderation requirements of each partnership. It is also the responsibility of School Deans to ensure that Unit Coordinators (and other School Deans where applicable) of units which are part of the course offerings from their School (service units) are informed of when a unit is required to be mounted as part of an educational partnership, so that the moderation requirements can be planned in a timely fashion.

Affiliate Lecturers should forward marked samples (the greater of 10 assignments or 10% of the total enrolments) to the Unit Coordinator for moderation within one week of receiving the assignments. The sample assignments should be selected by the Unit Coordinator and must be a representation of a range of results. The Australian Learning & Teaching Council also recommends that outliers (ie the highest and lowest scoring papers) and all papers that have been assessed a fail grade should be moderated (as per Attachment 2 to the Assessment Guideline.)

Once the Unit Coordinator has moderated all the papers by ‘double marking’, they should contact the Affiliate Lecturer with feedback on both the score/grade that has been awarded as well as the feedback that the Affiliate Lecturer has intended to provide the students. They should also state any changes that may be needed if they deem the Affiliate Lecturer has not followed the marking guide properly or has marked too generously/harshly. Section 6.1 of the Assessment Policy 2016 August 01 states that marks and/or grades “are not permitted to be scaled to fit a predetermined distribution,” so in essence, it is the marker (and their approach and interpretation of the marking guides/rubrics) rather than the marks that are moderated. If changes to Affiliate marking are required, Attachment 2 to the Assessment Guideline states that the following points should be kept in mind:

  1.  Any adjustment of marks should be demonstrably fair and equitable for each student affected and the Unit Coordinator will need to be able to justify all such adjustments. Therefore:
  2.  Post-hoc scaling of marks across a cohort of students (and especially on the basis of a small number of inconsistent results) should be avoided;
  3. Simply reducing the top scores or increasing the bottom scores is also not supported; and
  4. Corrections to marks must be completed as soon as possible.

The Affiliate Lecturer will finalise marking according to the feedback received from the Unit Coordinator. Assignments will be released to the students for them to view comments and marks within three weeks after the deadline of the specific assignment. It is particularly important that each student is advised of their final moderated result (ideally via LMS) before sitting their Final Exam. Once all of the component marks that are maintained by the Affiliate Lecturer (ie all ‘continuing assessments’ prior to the final exam for Singapore Affiliate Lecturers; all assessments including the final exam for Dubai Affiliate Lecturers) have been finalised these should be provided to the Unit Coordinator as soon as possible.

Generally any issues to do with marking can be handled and rectified by the Unit Coordinator and Affiliate Lecturer, however, in the event that moderation reveals a significant issue to do with marking that cannot be resolved, Attachment 2 to the Assessment Guideline states:

“For TNE offerings, the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in liaison with the TNE Liaison Team should contact the appropriate party in the partner organisation to initiate discussion. The Unit Coordinator must satisfy themselves, after discussion with the marker(s) that the cause of the problem has been corrected and the issue will not be repeated. Corrections to marks must be completed as soon as possible. Where a TNE offering is involved and the students are enrolled in a Murdoch Unit, the Unit Coordinator must consult with the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching who has the authority to require a total re-mark by an educational partner. The standard process for unresolved disagreements between the affiliate marker and Unit Coordinator is to raise the matter with the TNE Dean at the partner location for resolution (i.e. if there are perceived issues to do with unfair assessment, poor marking rubrics relative to the unit content etc.). If the matter cannot be resolved at this first instance, the TNE Dean will escalate it to the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching for a final determination.”

For more information on reporting of moderation to Board of Examiners meetings please see: Moderation Report.

For more information on Unit Coordinator & Affiliate Lecturer communication, please refer to Transnational Education: A Guide for Communication between Unit Coordinators and Affiliate Staff.

For more detailed information on the entire moderation process (ie checklists), please see Attachment 2 to the Assessment Guideline.

Results

Once the Unit Coordinator has received the component marks from their Affiliate Lecturer(s) and has finishing marking the exams, they must provide their finalised spread sheets with marks and grades to the Results team. Individual marks should not be rounded prior to calculating the final mark, but final marks must be presented as a whole number – 0.5 and above should be rounded up and 0.49 and below should be rounded down (s5.1 Assessment Procedure 2016 August 01). Unit Results must not be released informally to students by Unit Coordinators or any staff members prior to the Board of Examiners meeting unless they are notifying students of an intention to offer a supplementary assessment subject to approval of the Board of Examiners (s7.1 Assessment Policy 2016 August 01).

For more information on the meaning of letters grades and submission deadlines, please see the TNE Web Resource Results page and Submission of Unit Results for Staff page.