What goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of assessment?

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(Caption: Alex Feofiloff, Human Sciences Undergraduate Representative on Academic Senate, speaking at the October Academic Senate meeting about the need for more communication around the processes involved behind the scenes of assessments)

At the Academic Senate meeting of 23 October, a point of discussion was around student-facing communication of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of assessment and moderation.

“Students don’t know about all the in-depth work that is done to set the standard of grades, results from assessments at Macquarie are reflective of a student’s performance, not altered on a scaling curve, by understanding all the in-depth work that goes on behind the scenes to arrive at the final mark, student body should feel confident to explain what their marks represent,” say Alex Feofiloff, Human Sciences Undergraduate Representative on Academic Senate.

So to get the ball rolling, we are starting with this blog, which will be shared on the Campus Facebook page.

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Assessment at Macquarie is standards-based. If a student meets the standard for a grade, they receive that grade – there is no scaling to a bell curve or restriction on the number of students that can be awarded a grade.

Assessment is moderated at all stages of the assessment lifecycle and involves elements of both quality assurance (before assessment is implemented) and quality control (after assessment). This includes during the setting and design of assessment tasks, after marking of individual tasks, and after determination of the final grade. This functions to ensure that the marks have been arrived at accurately, consistently and fairly in accordance with the assessment criteria.

Requirements for assessment design, standards, moderation and grading are governed by the Assessment Policy, which is managed by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, and approved by Academic Senate. The effectiveness of moderation processes are evaluated periodically via the Academic Standards and Quality Committee.

At the end of each session as part of the quality assurance process faculties convene exam meetings in departments and through faculty committees. Exam results are ratified by Faculty Boards before they are released.

Academic Senate welcomes feedback from students on academic matters. To engage with us you can:


Posted by Jackie Phillips

Jacqueline Phillips is a neurophysiologist and Professor of Neuroscience at Macquarie. She worked as a veterinarian before pursuing medical research. She is currently the Deputy Chair of Academic Senate.

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