Thursday, 11 October 2012

GCTLT: Assessing and Evaluating: What is your experience of moderation in your teaching context? – Discussion 3 for Ass 3

GCTLT: Assessing and Evaluating: What is your experience of moderation in your teaching context? – Discussion 3 for Ass 3
Before this year my experience has mainly been with post- moderation. Firstly it has been an ‘internal’ process where my colleagues and I will moderate each other’s work to look for consistency between our two sites (Hamilton and Dunedin) and also to check our feedback comments in terms of quality of statements. After this is completed the assessment committee also provides feedback and then marks are released to students.
The other moderation I have had experience in is via an external moderator who assesses the course based on set criteria involving, assessments, student feedback, and a report that I write as course coordinator. We have just debated this process as some staff felt it isn’t effective as the majority of time the moderator ‘concurs’ with the course coordinator’s reports. However, I have found the experience valuable in receiving confirmation for issues that I’ve raised, (as it has meant that there was ‘backup’ to address these in the following year), and also to sustain and grow areas that are working well.
This year I developed a Rubric marking template which meant I had to complete a pre-moderation process. This involved using previous year’s scripts to test the new Rubric. A colleague and I blind marked 10% of old scripts to test for consistency, and to check we complied with being fair and transparent.  The Rubric also went to the assessment committee for approval which generated some general comments including; clarifying some terms used in the template, and noting that if a student doesn’t quite ‘fit’ in one box- you can ‘highlight’ comments across a number of boxes to give more specific feedback (this was helpful advice when it came to actual marking in Semester 2). IT was only after this had been ‘tested’ that it was released to students.
To support this we also developed a teaching strategy that had a number of components to support this assignment. These included a face to face workshop about the assessment and Rubric marking sheet.  Students also had access to online material they could refer to in their own time which included web-links, a word document that outlined general comments from me in regard to the assignment, and an open Moodle forum where they could post any questions or comments. Both myself and my colleague from Hamilton posted comments on this forum. We also posted reflective questions students could explore themselves in their own online forums (such as via the students’ facebook page).
• Why is moderation important?
Internal moderation is important for consistency within a course (especially when you have multiple markers), to ensure consistency between courses and to give assurance to students that their mark is ‘reliable’ as per OP’s assessment policy (2009). ACU National (2008) also identified these aims in the moderation process: comparability of assessment; quality of assessment; and  adherence to academic standards
Internal moderation can also help trouble shoot any issues (ie if one marker is unsure then they can utilise other staff to give an opinion and/or the assessment committee).
External moderation is also important to give consistency across the programme. I have found this helpful for checking if assessments are at the correct year level across the programme as a whole (ie we are not asking first years to complete an assessment task that should be at 3rd year level and vice versa).
Pre and post moderation are important processes to "verify that assessment design and assessor judgements are valid, fair, consistent and reliable; meet approved learning outcomes; and are appropriate to the learning environment". (Otago Polytechnic Academic Policy: Moderation of Assessment, AP908.00, 2007, p 1.) .
• What are the differences between pre and post-assessment moderation?
Pre assessment is a process we engage in where we check information/processes in regard to new assessment strategies before they are given to students. This ensures students only receive assessment strategies which have been ‘trialled and tested’.
Post assessment happens during and after an assessment occurs which I engage in regularly with my colleagues as detailed above.
I thought the comment in ACU National about the ‘spirit’ of moderation was interesting…
·         Moderation of assessment by self-review, School processes and, where applicable, internal moderators are integral to quality assessment practices each time a unit is offered.
·         Moderation of assessment by an independent moderator/s at regular intervals provides opportunities for independent feedback.
·         Moderation will be most effective when conducted in a spirit of professional learning and quality improvement.” (ACU National, 2008; 433)

ACU National (2008). Principals for Moderation for Assessments. Retrieved from:
Otago Polytechnic (2009) Otago Polytechnic Academic Policy: Assessment. Retrieved from:

1 comment:

  1. Yes Gina I also identified with the idea of using moderation to stimulate and support professional learning, as mentioned in that ACU article. I think moderation is a really good way for people to have useful discussions about their teaching practice. As long as the moderators are willing to challenge each other. My experience of some moderators is that they don't really critique the work or the assessment tools, and just say yes to everything.

    I have never found anything that is absolutely perfect, and would always expect moderation to result in some sort of suggestion or change for improvement. I wonder if most people have encountered situations where meaningful moderation appeared to be lacking? Sometimes I think, people just say yes because they haven't got time to spare to really look at material in depth, and if it 'cuts the mustard' on the surface, it slips past. Your process of moderation to test out the new rubric was sound, but probably not a common practice due to the time it takes to do. Go you!