Using technology to improve peer review and collaborative conversations to benchmark academic standards
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In 2010 the Australian government commissioned the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) to undertake a national project to facilitate disciplinary development of threshold learning standards. The aim was to lay the foundation for all higher education providers to demonstrate to the new national higher education regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), that graduates achieved or exceeded minimum academic standards. Through a yearlong consultative process, representatives of employers, professional bodies, academics and students, developed learning standards applying to any Australian higher education provider. Willey and Gardner reported using a software tool, SPARKPLUS, in calibrating academic standards amongst teaching staff in large classes. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of this technology to promote calibrated understandings with the national accounting learning standards. We found that integrating the software with a purposely designed activity provided significant efficiencies in calibrating understandings about learning standards, developed expertise and a better understanding of what is required to meet these standards and how best to demonstrate them. The software and supporting calibration and assessment process can be adopted by other disciplines, including engineering, seeking to provide direct evidence about performance against learning standards. © 2012 IEEE.
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