• Moderation and its meanings

    There are a variety of understandings and practices around moderation of assessment. Our research indicates that the meanings of moderation include:

    • Consistency in assessment and marking
    • Process for ensuring comparability
    • Measure of quality control
    • Process to look for equivalence
    • Maintaining academic standards to ensure fairness
    • Part of quality assurance

    The view held by most is that moderation is all about marking:

    "I think moderation is where you’ve got different groups of students and you have to make sure they’re marked with equal fairness." Australian academic

    For others, moderation also extends to ensuring that assessment is both valid and 'fair' in the first place:

    "Moderation is not a summative process, it's right from the beginning." Transnational partner academic

     Clip Art Listen to what an Australian academic says about moderation (mp3, 494KB). This is a direct quote from an interview transcript read by an actor.

    This project interprets moderation of assessment more broadly than just a quality control measure around marking work. This is because marking alone and reviewing allocated grades does not guarantee quality assessment. The project sees moderation as processes and activities that occur before assessment is implemented (i.e. quality assurance), as well as those that occur after assessment is undertaken by students (i.e. quality control). The project proposes viewing moderation as having three phases (PDF, 274KB) with non-linear feedback loops: 

    • assessment design and development
    • implementation, marking and grading
    • review and evaluation.

    For definitions of moderation and it's surrounding practices, see the glossary.

    For one interpretation of this approach, see the moderation process flowchart (PDF, 252KB) which shows the three phases of the moderation process.