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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

What is your experience of moderation in your teaching context? Assessment 3 activity 3.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority sees itself as working in partnership with schools and institutions to maintain accurate and consistent assessment.  In order to maintain this a system of moderation has been put in place.

"The purpose of moderation is to provide assurance that assessment is fair, valid and at the national standard, and that the assessors are making consistent judgements about learner performance".
 (NZQA, 2012).

I see NZQA as setting the standard and monitoring the consistency and accuracy of assessments nationally as an external body with the responsibility of internal moderation handed over to the educational institutions to manage.

I have participated in Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI) moderation workshops for unit standards in previous roles and have found the process to be of great value to ensuring that standards are met and maintained.  At the workshops we would share 3 pieces of assessment displaying a range of competencies and they would be peer marked, commented on and returned.  There was also opportunity to receive up-dated information from the Institute on a national basis and spend some time networking with fellow Industry workers.  The value in these opportunities were also in how effectively the workshop experience was fed back to colleagues in our own place of work, so that comments made were acted on if need be.

In my current role I gather evidence for the moderation process to take place but do not participate in the procedure.  Having had the experience of the workshops I am aware of the importance of moderation to "achieving valid, fair, accurate and consistent internal assessment" (NZQA, 2012).

Other factors I feel are important are that moderation can help ensure "consistency of assessment within organisations, over time and between assessors ". (NZQA, 2012).


  • Time is an important factor as assessments need to be up-dated to take into account the changing students, compliance and legislation amendments and to keep the literature current and fresh.  This also ensures a professional image, for the lecturer, the programme and the educational institute.
  • Maintaining consistency, no matter who is assessing is an important consideration, the criteria and the layout of the assessment needs to be transparent or with a list of instructions to ensure that each student is given a fair and equal opportunity.
  • Within organisations; this is where external moderation would be important to compare and contrast similar assessments over comparable institutions.
Pre-assessment (Annually at OP)
This would be the assessment development stage, where the questions and analyse would be based around;
  1. How effectively does this measure students learning?
  2. Does the assessment align with the learning outcomes?
  3. Are they a true measure of learning?
The use of exemplars has been increasing to standardise the marking process, e.g. Literacy and Numeracy writing assessments from the Tertiary Education Commission.  Bowen-Clewley & Strachen (2007), see that " the development of exemplars will be the key to agreement on the interpretation of the standards". 
In my experience of marking these assessments I have found that it is still subjective and I find to ensure accuracy I will get these moderated on a regular basis which makes the whole process very time consuming.  There would not be consistency of assessment between markers in this case.

Post-assessment (Annually at OP)
According to the Otago Polytechnic Academic Policy: Moderation of Assessment, APO908.00,(2007) "consistency of marking is ensured by post assessment moderation procedures, and checking against marking schedules."  (p.1).

The procedures are based on;
  • Outcomes
  • Consistency of assessment; achievement of comparable outcomes with other assessors/organisations
  • Graduate profile outcomes
  • Range of delivery and assessment approaches/contexts
  • Evidence based
  • Show a range of competencies
  • Evidence of re-sit attempts
  • Confidence in an assessment process
  • Formal assurance processes
Setting up moderation groups are a good idea to gauge interpretation of particular assessments.  E.G  looking for patterns of answers that are wrong or large groups of students failing a question, would highlight if the question was worded in-correctly, or students giving the same answers that are wrong may highlight if the teaching is OK.

Summary;
So, the purpose of moderation is to provide feedback to assessors to assist in making consistent judgements to a national standard.  The standards being the benchmark for the Country's qualifications.
The checkers, checking the checkers!

References;
Retrieved from; NZQA, (2012)  http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/providers-partners/assessment-and-moderation/

Retrieved from; NZQA,(2012) www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/Studying-in-NZ/New-Zealand-Qualification-Framework/consistency-qual-outcomes.pdf

Otago Polytechnic Academic Policy: Moderation of Assessment, APO908.00,(2007)

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