The development of moderation across the institution: a comparison of two approaches
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Assessment practices generally are notoriously resistant to change, and the complexities of innovating in higher education are well documented in the literature. Moderation is associated with fair assessment, but associated processes within the higher education sector vary: moderation policies tend to be inconsistently defined and applied both across and within institutions. For example, some see moderation as synonymous with double marking or a post hoc analysis of results. Others take a broader view and see moderation as being part of a holistic process encompassing the design of the assessment and the development of a shared consensus between assessors. At Curtin, a broad and holistic approach to moderation has been developed to provide a common definition and policy framework across the University. To support the implementation of this framework, a funding model was developed during 2008 and subsequently refined in 2009. The initial funding model adopted provided all unit coordinators with financial support dependent on the number of students enrolled. Although this produced a number of positive outcomes, developments were often modest, focusing on the solving of immediate and pressing problems. During 2009 and in parallel with the launch of the moderation policy, this funding model was extended and refined to strategically support specific moderation activities, articulated through four key priorities with monies distributed through a combination of direct funding and competitive bid projects. This paper explores ways in which the development of moderation across the institution can be supported and even accelerated, and discusses the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the two broad approaches used in this project. Implications for the development of moderation practices across the wider sector are discussed.
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