Moderation in Higher Education: Four Discourses

Denise BEUTEL
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
d.beutel@qut.edu.au

Lenore ADIE
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
lenore.adie@qut.edu.au

Margaret LLOYD
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
mm.lloyd@qut.edu.au

Abstract

Across the globe, higher education institutions are working in environments of increasing accountability with little sign of this trend abating. This heightened focus on accountability has placed greater demands on institutions to provide evidence of quality and the achievement of standards that assure that quality. Moderation is one quality assurance process that plays a central role in the teaching, learning and assessment cycle in higher education institutions. While there is a growing body of research globally on teaching, learning and, to a lesser degree, assessment in higher education, the process of moderation has received even less attention (Watty et al., 2013). Until recently, moderation processes in Australian universities have been typically located within individual institutions with universities given the responsibility for developing their own specific policies and practices. However, in 2009, the Australian Government announced that an independent national quality and regulatory body for higher education institutions would be established. Now, with the introduction of this body, TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality Standards Authority), more formalised requirements for moderation of assessment are being mandated. In light of these reforms, the purpose of this qualitative study involving 25 academics was to identify and investigate current moderation practices operating within one faculty, the Faculty of Education, in a large urban university in eastern Australia. The findings of this study revealed four discourses of moderation: equity, justification, community building and accountability. These discourses provide a starting point for academics to engage in substantive conversations around assessment and to further critique the processes of moderation.

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