How and why do we assess our students: Comparing ranking to criterion referenced approaches

Professional Development

Room G01, ground floor
Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne Parkville Campus


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Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education

T: 03 8344 4605

Internationally there has been a movement away from assessing students in terms of how their achievements compare to other students (norm-referenced approaches) to how well they have achieved the aims, objectives and learning outcomes (criterion- and standards-referenced approaches of their subjects and courses. The University of Melbourne’s Assessment Policy states that “Assessment and grading in subjects must be criterion-referenced and aligned to specific subject learning outcomes, including the graduate attributes and the generic skills they encompass.” This statement is consistent with international practice. But how does criterion- or standard-referenced assessment differ from norm-referenced assessment? How is grade inflation dealt with in criterion or standards referenced assessment? How is consistency of standards across assessment items within subjects and across subjects within programs of study maintained? Indeed, how does norm-referenced approaches compare to criterion- and standards-referenced approaches? These questions will be addressed in this seminar.

Mike Prosser is an Associate Professor in the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, with a focus on the FlexAP project. He has been elected a Life Member of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia for distinguished contributions to teaching and research in higher education and of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education. He has held senior appointments in higher education in Australia, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. His research has focused on teaching and learning in higher education.