Moderation of assessment is a system of checking assessment in terms of fairness, clarity, appropriateness and alignment with learning outcomes in other words, it is a quality control process. The Commonwealth of Australia defines moderation as a:
process which involves assessors discussing and reaching agreement about assessment processes and assessment outcomes.
This aspect of moderation usually comes before an assessment is developed and delivered. Post-assessment moderation involves checking out how the assessment was received and carried out by students and looking at individual marking to ensure it is as objective as possible.
My experience of moderation
As a midwifery educator I have been involved in moderation both as educator and member of committees that have carried out pre- and-post moderation.
At times the process of moderation has felt confrontational and nit-picking. But in the long-run, I have always found the process to be one of support and learning. Even as an experienced educator I have found that I have learned new things about assessment, both in process and delivery. The thing that I have always valued moderation for is the feedback I have received about how I have aligned assessment with learning outcomes. At times I have got carried away with grandiose plans for assessment activities, and have needed to be reminded to keep a tight rein on my imagination :)
Benefits for educator and learner
To have a second eye (or third or fourth) cast over one's processes and marking reduces errors. The flow on effect is that students are more likely to find the assessment to be fair and learn from it, and less likely to appeal which causes more work for the educator.
My experience of moderation has always been that there is some sort of student input which I also think is invaluable. Student involvement in moderation allows a two-way flow of information: it keep educators' mindful of student workload and expectations, and it shows students what goes on behind the scenes..what drives assessment and how it is developed and marked.
What process of moderation do you use as an educator? If you are a student, do you know what process of moderation is used in your courses?
Australian Catholic University. (2008). Principles for moderation of assessment. Retrieved 9 September, 2009, from: http://www.acu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/108791/Moderation_principles-final.pdf
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