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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Quality, Moderation, Professional Judgment, and Self-Regulation

When teachers use work samples with students to help them understand quality, they are inviting them to engage in a kind of social moderation process – a guided experience of analyzing student work. During this process, teachers guide students to understand the key attributes of quality in the work samples. [See Chapter 4 in Making Classroom Assessment Work (Davies, 2011) for a detailed description for teachers or Chapter 4 in Leading the Way to Assessment for Learning: A Practical Guide (Davies, Herbst & Parrott Reynolds, 2012) for leaders].

Over time this process helps students develop the language of assessment so they can self-monitor, self-assess, and engage in peer assessment. As students continue to engage in social moderation as part of the classroom assessment and instructional cycle, they learn to articulate what they’ve learned and share proof of learning with others – for example, through parent-student-teacher conferences.

This kind of classroom assessment and instruction is incredibly powerful. It deliberately teaches students how to self-monitor – to self-regulate – which, over time, leads to the development of powerful executive functioning skills. It is also a way to deliberately teach 21stcentury skills of analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking, to name a few.

Involving students in a social moderation process is more and more common as teachers come to understand the role of moderation in their own learning. For example, a teacher of 5- and 6-year-old children has a series of samples of writing and drawing from early development up to examples that are beyond where the most able writer in the class is currently working.

In small groups students gather to compare their day’s writing to the samples and talk about what they are currently doing that is similar to the sample and what is different. During this conversation of embedded instruction “next steps” ideas for subsequent work become clear. In this photograph you can see

Historically, moderation was a process used in large-scale assessment. There are different ways of going about the moderation process but, in general, it involves looking at student work with others, co-constructing criteria, developing a scoring guide, and selecting samples to illustrate quality. And then working to score student work and checking with others to ensure similar findings – a process of checking for inter-rater reliability.

Being involved in a process of social moderation has been shown to result in adults “learning to produce valid and reliable judgments that are consistent with one another and with stated achievement standards.” (Adie, Klenowski & Wyatt-Smith, 2012). It is also part of what caused the Assessment Reform Group in a publication titled, The role of teachers in the assessment of learning (2006), to say that teachers' professional judgement is more reliable and valid than external tests when they are engaged in looking at student work, co-constructing criteria, creating a scoring guide, scoring the work, and checking for inter-rater reliability. Teachers, even with students as young as 5 and 6 years of age are experiencing the same kinds of results with a classroom version of social moderation (Davies, 2012).

As part of my pre-reading for the International Symposium in April 2014, I’ve been enjoying articles by Linda Allal(2013) (written about in an earlier post) and by Lenore Adie (2013) and her colleagues, Val Klenowski and Claire Wyatt-Smith (2012). I’ve also revisited work by Graham Maxwell who will be in Fredericton, NB, in April 2014, as well as by a former International Symposium (2001) member, Royce Sadler, and a more recent article also focused on moderation.

These researchers are focused on what happens in the process of moderation and when systems deliberately engage teachers in learning about quality and gaining ‘informed professional judgment’ through the process of moderation. If this area is of interest to you, I encourage you to read their research and writing. Here is a selection of readings to get you started. And, of course, if you check the reference lists, you will find the “shoulders upon which they stand.” 

Recommended Reading: 

Adie, Lenore E., Klenowski, Valentina & Wyatt-Smith, Claire. (2012). Towards an understanding of teacher judgement in the context of social moderation. Educational Review, Volume 64, Issue 2, 2012.

Adie, L., Lloyd, M., & Beutel, D. (2013). Identifying discourses of moderation in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. Volume 38, Issue 8, p. 968. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/types/article/2013.html

Davies, Anne, Herbst, Sandra & Parrot Reynolds, Beth. (2012). Transforming Schools and Systems Using Assessment: A Practical Guide. Courtenay, BC: Connections Publishing.

Hayward, Louise & Hutchison, Carolyn. (2013). 'Exactly what do you mean by consistency?' Exploring concepts of consistency and standards in Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, Vol. 20 (1), 53 - 68.

Maxwell, Graham. (2010). Moderation of Student Work by Teachers. In: Penelope Peterson, Eva Baker, and Barry McGaw (Editors), International Encyclopedia of Education. Volume 3, pp. 457 - 463. Oxford: Elsevier. 

Sadler, D. R. (2013). Assuring academic achievement standards: From moderation to calibration. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 20, 5‑19.
And the entire issue of: 
Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice. Volume 20 (1) 2013. Special Issue: Moderation Practice and Teacher Judgementwhich includes articles by Val Klenowski, D. Royce Sadler, Linda Allal, Claire Wyatt-Smith & Val Klenowski, Lenore Adie, Susan M. Brookhart, and others.

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