Improve assessment practice and the quality of learning and teaching is enhanced!

Kogilam Naidoo, Deb Murdoch

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


Institutionally, assessment practice is guided by relevant policies that provide guidelines to ensure courses meet relevant academic standards and guidelines such as the Higher Education Standards Framework (HESF), Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards), 2015 and assured by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA). However, the extent to which actual practice complies with institutional policies and national accreditation standards remains unclear. Without commensurate academic development and support of teaching staff, monitoring of standards through robust quality assurance processes (courses reviews and continuous quality improvement cycles), and regular benchmarking, we cannot be assured of course standards or competent graduates (Freeman and Ewan, 2014). In this presentation, using a Learning & Teaching Quality & Standards Framework, (Scott, 2016) we showcase an institutional approach, providing a comprehensive professional development program to supporting teachers enhance their assessment practices. Our work follows on the University’s strategic investment and response in this three-year initiative to address the quality and learning teaching (QLT) standards through targeted assessment practice key performance indicators that impact on students’ learning and experience. Target subjects in key courses were chosen in the first two years of the initiative. The assessment data focused essentially on two key performance indicators relating to assessment (the communication of assessment tasks in subject outlines and final examinations). This year the academic support initiative has been extended to include a greater focus on moderation and external benchmarking of assessment practice using a technological solution to support peer review (Booth & Read, 2016). This showcase reports on the initiative to enhance assessment practice to support of teaching staff through professional development to ensure compliance with assessment policies aimed at improving student learning. At the start of the initiative in 2015, a sample audit of assessment practice was commissioned by Senate to report on compliance with assessment policies, alignment to learning outcomes and the communication of assessment tasks to students. The international assessment literature review underpinned the design of the audit tool and professional development program. Systematic reviews of assessment practice with concomitant professional development (one-on-one consultations, seminars/ workshops and online resources) were provided. The review data and results indicate clearly that when academics engaged in professional development, there was a significantly higher increase in assessment policy compliance and clearer communication of assessment tasks to students. The QLT final report in 2017, made several recommendations to ensure ongoing support of teaching staff and robust quality assurance processes. Providing the teachers with options for synchronous professional development workshops, additional resources and individual consultations, afforded opportunities for collecting quantitative and qualitative data. To ensure ongoing improvement in quality assessment practices requires continuous monitoring through quality assurance mechanisms, supported by additional professional development resourcing. A professional development program based on the results, consultation with staff, and the literature formed the basis for the quality enhancement intervention. The results provide a snapshot of enhanced institutional assessment practices: policy alignment, learning outcomes, and assessment expectations clearly communicated to students. Also demonstrated is the impact of additional academic resourcing to support the professional development of teachers. Reporting was done at the school, faculty and institutional levels.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event41st annual conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia : HERDSA 2018 - Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 02 Jul 201805 Jul 2018 (Conference website)


Conference41st annual conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
Abbreviated title(Re)Valuing Higher Education
OtherThe theme for the conference is (Re)Valuing Higher Education. Higher education has undergone dramatic change in the last decade with an international agenda to open universities to a broader range of individuals while requiring researchers to focus on priorities set by government.
The sector is forced to continue to grapple with restrained budgets, increased student numbers, greater student diversity and government agendas requiring preparation of students for work and lifelong learning. It also faces an increasingly under resourced and corporatized and complex research environment.
Within this context we wish to consider what the value of higher education has become. By (Re)Valuing Higher Education we are revisiting the purpose and scope of what being a ‘university’ means as well as considering what differentiates ‘higher’ learning from other forms of post-secondary education.
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