Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Assessment, Moderation and Benchmarking

Assessment is a central feature of teaching and the curriculum. It powerfully frames how students learn and what students achieve. It is one of the most significant influences on students' experience of higher education and all that they gain from it.[Boud, D. and Associates (2010). Assessment 2020: Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education. Sydney: Australian Learning and Teaching Council]

Assessment is an integral part of the learning and teaching process at CSU. What is assessed and how it is assessed gives clear messages to students about what the University considers to be important in their learning and achievement. The Assessment Principles Policy illustrates the central importance of assessment at CSU and it recognises that assessment must cater to the needs of several stakeholders, including students, staff, the University, the community, potential employers, and government and external accrediting bodies.

Moderation at CSU, guided by the Moderation Policy, is a way of ensuring quality and consistency of assessment, learning and teaching. It involves professional judgement to ensure valid, reliable, fair and consistent assessment practices for staff, students and external stakeholders in alignment with CSU policies and external requirements.

This section focuses on assessment and moderation in a CSU context. It provides resources that set the broader framework of assessment and moderation and it introduces you to the requirements of the Assessment and Moderation policies.

The following sections include common questions with answers from this website:

Assessment design

  1. Is there Constructive Alignment? Do the learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment tasks align?
  2. Are tasks designed on the principles of criterion-referenced, standards-based assessment?
  3. Does the rationale for the task clearly describe the purpose for the assessment task and does it reflect the learning outcomes?
  4. Is the task appropriate for the stage of the course?
  5. Has student diversity been considered? Includes:
  6. Do the assessment tasks promote assessment for learning?
  7. How are the graduate learning outcomes incorporated into assessment?
  8. Does the design promote academic integrity and minimise opportunities for plagiarism?
  9. Are the marking criteria clearly aligned to the assessment task and the learning outcomes? Validity
  10. Does the pass standard meet the minimum requirements of the learning outcomes?
  11. Is every assessment task aligned to at least one subject learning outcome?
  12. Is the assessment task a valid means to assess the learning outcomes?
  13. Do the assessment tasks help develop the skills students will need in subsequent assessments and subjects?

Assessment types and innovation

  1. Is the assessment formative or summative?
  2. Has variety in types of task been considered?
  3. Have digital and online resources been incorporated into task design and delivery?
  4. Is e-assessment available and/or appropriate?
  5. What authentic alternatives to examination can be used?
  6. Are there innovative task types available to promote student engagement?
  7. Does the type of task suit large classes of students?
  8. Does the task promote group work or collaboration?
  9. What communication skills can be developed/demonstrated in the task?
  10. Can the task type be adapted to incorporate graduate learning outcomes?

Communication to students

  1. Is the task clearly written and unambiguous?
  2. Will students understand what they need to produce for each task?
  3. Will standards of performance to achieve different grades be clear to students?
  4. Is the grammar, spelling and formatting free of errors?
  5. Are referencing requirements included?


  1. Have First-year principles been incorporated, where appropriate?
  2. Are early low stakes assessment tasks included?
  3. Are tasks scaffolded – between assignments, across subjects and courses?
  4. Are tasks accessible to all students?
  5. Is the length of assignment appropriate for the subject level and the weighting of the task?
  6. Is the amount of time required appropriate for the subject level and the weighting of the task?
  7. Are tasks fairly weighted compared to the effort required?
  8. Are assessment tasks timed across a session to distribute student workload evenly and to consider conflicting deadlines in other subjects?

Professional Practice

  1. Do assessment tasks meet external Professional Accreditation requirements? Validity
  2. Is assessment authentic?
  3. Is there a requirement for high stakes assessment?

Moderation and marking

  1. Do the criteria and standards promote reliability in marking? Reliability.
  2. How much time will be required to mark each assignment? Efficiency.
  3. How complex will the marking guide be?
  4. How has assessment for large numbers of students been managed?
  5. Will the grading promote decisions about student progression?
  6. What type of feedback is appropriate?
  7. How will timely feedback be delivered?
  8. Is moderation prior to marking required?
  9. How will consistency of marking across cohorts be assured?
  10. Are exemplars useful?
  11. What processes are in place to review assessment, grades and feedback?
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