Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Moderation resource and information

Each Faculty has a defined process for moderation (see links below for more detail), and you may also find the following resources to be useful.

Faculty of Arts and Education moderation
Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Studies moderation
Faculty of Science moderation

Help for Moderation can be found in the help files for the Quality Assurance and Reflection system.

Strategies for moderation during session

There are a range of strategies that can be employed for the moderation of marking during session. These may occur:

  1. Prior to marking
  2. While marking, and
  3. Before returning feedback and marks to students.

Your School may choose to use one or more of the moderation strategies outlined, relevant to the individual situation. For example, establishing standards through consensus is necessary when you have a team of markers, however of little value if there is only one academic responsible for teaching and assessing the subject.

Good practice in moderation

  • develop marking criteria and standards collegially as a team with all subject markers so they are all conversant with the requirements
  • have a meeting prior to marking to ensure that all markers have the understanding of the marking standards  agreed on and presented to the students and after marking to ensure consistency
  • develop standards that are objective in nature so that subjective terms which can be interpreted differently by both students and markers are not used
  • moderate across the range of all grades to ensure consistency
  • check extremes of marking to ensure consistency
  • find a moderator if you are a single marker to check your own marking
  • use moderation methods suitable for your subject and the type of assessment and number of markers
  • record your practices in the Quality Assurance and Reflection System to maintain information about moderation and its results

These strategies have been adapted from the ALTC Assessment Moderation Toolkit.

Prior to marking

Prior to marking, the marking team come together (in person, via videoconference or online meeting) and using the provided criteria and standards to mark the same student or sample assessments individually, then compare and discuss the results. This can also be called peer moderation. Even when marking criteria are explicit, this process helps the team to come to a consensus on using their professional judgement. For example, some markers may mark 'easier' or 'harder', and some markers use the full range of marks across the grade scale (e.g. 50-64% for a pass level), while others may use a more restricted range. Discussing these differences will help the team reach a common understanding and therefore achieve greater consistency in marking across the subject.

Consensus moderation works best when it occurs prior to marking student work so each marker will have a common understanding of the criteria and standards in mind as they mark. It's harder to reach consensus and ensure consistency after the marking has been completed

For subjects with large cohorts and/or multiple markers the subject convenor/coordinator should at a minimum provide marked examples of student work that help markers understand how the standards and criteria should be applied. The more discussion and feedback that occurs early in the marking process, the easier it will be to resolve in differences in interpretation and hopefully avoid the additional work required if marking needs to be readdressed.

While Marking

Moderation during delivery includes checking the consistency of marking of the assessment tasks and grading process against the assessment/marking criteria and related standards in order to ensure consistency across groups of students in the same subject, as well as reviewing all grades before approval and communication to students. (Mod. Pol. Cl.10).

Examples of types of moderation (From: USQ Australia, Learning and Teaching Support, Information for Staff: "Moderation of Assessments")

  1. Self-moderation - check back over scripts that have been marked to ensure that scripts marked earlier and later have been treated similarly
    • This does not meet CSU policy as a form of formal moderation
    • It IS a good way to check your own consistency
  2. In-situ marking – a "live" assessment task that is marked on the spot, can be helped by having more than one marker present to reach a consensus mark
  3. Expert moderation - someone who is not a subject marker, but is an expert in the field, a moderator external to subject team
    • This does not meet CSU policy as a form of formal moderation but may help you to determine borderline cases or cases of extreme differences
  4. Peer moderation – markers meet to review their marking. May have similar skill sets and are not necessarily experts.
  5. Blind re-marking – the moderator (expert or peer) is not informed of the previous marker's judgment of a task and re-marks an unmarked copy, if possible.
  6. Confirmatory review – the moderator (expert or peer) knows previous mark and checks for agreement with that mark.

Some strategies to use are:

  1. Subjects involving one marker
    • From time to time, markers working alone should review work they marked earlier in the day or week to ensure consistency of marking standards. This does not meet CSU policy as a form of formal moderation but it IS a good way to check your own consistency
  2. Subjects involving multiple markers
    • If relevant to the assessment type, you could allocate different markers to mark particular sections, e.g. one marker marks all of Part A and a second marker looks at Part B etc. Careful thought needs to be given to how to rotate the student's work between markers (paperless marking may be of use) and how to collate the marks.
  3. Panel marking
    • Panel marking involves two or more markers coming together to mark an assessment independently. It may be used for oral presentations, performances, exhibitions or other transient assessment work. Audio-visual recording of the assessment might also be undertaken, which is a useful way to moderate these types of assessments.
    • Comparing results with an offering of the subject in a previous session
    • Reviewing graded assessments against exemplars
    • Reviewing and remarking very high and very low results
    • Use of moderator external to subject team
    • Double marking sample assessments amongst marking team members
    • Reviewing and remarking assessments at borderline grades (e.g. high credit/low distinction)
    • Wrap up conversation with marking team to discuss the assessment task and common feedback to be provided to students on Interact

Before returning feedback and marks to students

Reviewing moderation

When reviewing your moderation processes at the end of session, the following questions adapted from the ALTC may assist:

  1. Assessment design
    1. What form of assessment is most appropriate for assessing specific subject learning outcomes?
    2. Are examinations of the same length & level of difficulty as in previous years? How can this be achieved? How is it monitored?
    3. What standards are expected for a passing grade - for an assessment? For the subject?
    4. Does any assessment task advantage one particular subgroup of students, eg on campus or distance students? Can you justify this?
  2. Communication
    1. Is feedback sought from others (staff, students, industry) about assessment design and expectations for student performance?
    2. What is the best way to involve the teaching team in developing or agreeing marking criteria and standards prior to students undertaking an assessment?
    3. Have students been informed about the processes in place to ensure fairness through moderation?
  3. Marking
    1. Do all markers know how to ensure that their own marking is consistent over time and different papers? Have they checked?
    2. Do you undertake consensus moderation: to ensure that all markers understand and can implement the criteria and standards faithfully and comparably?
    3. What strategies will you employ to ensure consistent, reliable, accurate marking: second marking, double blind marking, share marking, external marking (see strategies above)?
  4. Analysis of results
    1. Do you compare marks for subgroups of students, eg different cohorts, to check for inadvertent bias?
    2. Do you undertake statistical analysis of assessors' marks to check for systematic errors?
    3. Do you provide feedback for assessors/students about the fairness of the assessment task and marking?
  5. Review and feedback
    1. How do you review the whole assessment task (does it perform as expected? as necessary?). Are markers required to provide feedback?
    2. What improvements are needed? How can they be implemented?
    3. Is student work returned with a clear mark and/or grade and clear indications as to how they can improve?
    4. Is student work returned in time for students to apply what they have learned in subsequent tasks?