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Facilitating sustainable, long-term enhancement of learning and teaching in WA universities.

What does research tell us about the relationship between commonly used assessment practices and academic standards in higher education?

Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, Perth.

Seminar/ Workshop at 8.201B Centre for Learning & Development Collaborative Space, Tuesday 26th November, 10 – 12midday

Professor Sue Bloxham (U Cumbria, UK): What does research tell us about the relationship between commonly used assessment practices and academic standards in higher education?

Do our policies and practices for assuring standards (e.g. criteria, rubrics, benchmark statements, moderation, external review) facilitate consistent and reliable grading of student work?  This seminar will present recent research on marking judgements and university teachers’ use of academic standards in higher education. It will draw on both empirical data and theoretical approaches to examine the extent to which there is a mismatch between the claims about quality assurance of higher education assessment and the everyday practice of academics making decisions about student achievement.  The seminar will be an opportunity to discuss aspects such as the conflict between

  • documented and tacit knowledge of standards,
  • norm referenced grading,
  • analytical grading
  • holistic judgement processes and
  • the existence of a broad or local consensus on standards.

The seminar will conclude by discussing alternative, better matched, approaches to safeguarding standards in the assessment of complex work drawing upon both UK and Australian examples.


Professor Bloxham is Director of Education Research and Professor of Academic Practice at the University of Cumbria, UK.  In 2007, she was awarded a UK National Teaching Fellowship.  She has developed a particular interest in understanding and enhancing assessment in the higher education context.  Her interest has focused on how we manage our higher education assessment, particularly task design, guidance and feedback, to support the achievement of students from under-represented groups, and her work has inspired research into how tutors recognise quality in their marking.  Sue has taught in higher education for over twenty years, followed by ten years’ experience in educational development including responsibility for a large education development centre. She has published widely in the field, including the best-selling Developing Effective Assessment in Higher Education (Open University Press) with Pete Boyd in 2007. Her current ventures include a research project on the use of academic standards by academics funded by the UK Higher Education Academy and Quality Assurance Agency, contributing to the Assessment chapter of the new UK Quality Code for Higher Education, and involvement in the UK HEA Transforming Assessment Programme.

Free registration.  Please RSVP to Dr Ken Robinson, CLD [email protected]