Internal moderation of assessment in an ITP sector institution : translating policy into practice

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Simpson, Jean
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Howse, Jo
Cardno, Carol
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)
performance appraisal
undergraduate lecturers
moderation policy
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Simpson, J. (2019). Internal moderation of assessment in an ITP sector institution: Translating policy into practice. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the key expectations for moderation policy? 2. What is the practice of internal moderation from the perspectives of lecturers? 3. What are the challenges experienced by lecturers during the internal moderation process? ABSTRACT: The emergence of ‘quality’ as a key focus of educational leadership reflects current international trends in educational management that place policy emphasis on improvements to quality assurance and accountability. Moderation of assessment has come to embody this emerging policy focus and plays an increasingly important role within tertiary sector quality assurance systems. This small scale qualitative study drew on a case study research framework to investigate the perceptions and experiences of lecturers and moderators who are implementing the internal moderation policy of an undergraduate programme at an ITP sector institution. This research investigated issues associated with the translation of moderation policy into practice, particularly the underlying practitioner values and the associated practice challenges and tensions. The research method utilised was semi-structured face to face interviews with six lecturers/moderators. The research found evidence of a complex and distinct moderation culture among practitioners in the School that is supported by a range of values that underpin the approach. Strong support was found for moderation as an academic quality assurance process, along with resistance to a focus on compliance, and there was also found to be an aspiration for moderation to support and drive improvements to the student experience and learning outcomes. It was found that practitioners rated the skills, experience, knowledge and workload capacity of moderators to be the key factor in determining the effectiveness of moderation, with policy playing a less important, supporting role. A range of challenges to effective practice are outlined, including the identification of policy tensions related to the recognition and management of moderator workloads and professional development. This research highlights the complexities and challenges for educational leaders in the development and implementation of effective moderation policy, which needs to recognise and support the diversity of a positive moderation culture within an institute, while resolving the tensions that are inherent in achieving a balance between quality assurance and supporting teaching and learning.
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