External examining and comparable processes in a selection of case study countries
What processes do other countries use that have similar characteristics to external examining?
Countries considered • United Kingdom • Denmark • Germany • The Netherlands • Australia • New Zealand • United States • Canada
Methodology • This is a qualitative study – it is limited and not conclusive. • It used five characteristics as a basis for identifying comparable processes in other countries: • Focus on the programme as a whole at the award stage • Occur whenever the programme is undertaken • Involve external input • Involve people from within or close to a field of learning • Monitor and moderate learner assessment.
Findings • External examining, in the United Kingdom sense, appears to be a relatively uncommon method of quality assurance of higher education programmes • Externality in some countries is more likely to be “external assessing”, rather than “external examining” • Each country will use a variety of measures that, in combination, are likely to meet all of the characteristics of external examining
Comparable processes • Processes that met some (not necessarily all) of the characteristics of external examining • Self monitoring and moderation (within the faculty) • Institutional monitoring and moderation (outside of the faculty but within the institution) • Professional monitoring and moderation • Benchmarking (comparison of programme results, standardised tests) • State or government monitoring and moderation (quality assurance, government examinations) • Public and/or media scrutiny (rankings, marking controversies)
The past The way a country moderates or monitors learner assessment is the product of its historical, cultural, political and, perhaps, geographical context.
The future The globalisation of education and increasing emphasis on the learner may further enhance the importance of processes designed to make comparisons in relation to standards and ensure fairness in relation to students.
External examining • The use of external examining is most prevalent in the United Kingdom and Denmark. • Denmark • Mandatory • External examiners are appointed by the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation Involved in appeals processes • Also occurs, to some extent in New Zealand and Australia • United Kingdom – interaction with other processes
Self or internal • A degree of externality can exist where there is a diversity of opinions and views. • The Netherlands • Examination Boards • set regulations for assessment, mediate between learners and examiners, general quality assurance • Independent from a provider’s management • Better off with external examiners?
Professional • Align assessment with real-world industry needs • Variety of forms • Reviews of registered institutions • External examiners appointed by professional bodies • Administration of exams • The United States, architecture – samples of assessment against learning outcomes
Benchmarking • Periodic surveys • Standardised discipline testing • Benchmarking examinations • United States – major field tests • Netherlands – benchmarking examinations • Australia - measuring the gains of higher education • OECD – international comparative assessment of learning outcomes
Government • Quality assurance processes used in all countries – consideration of learner assessment will vary • New Zealand – Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Quality, pre and post moderation • Germany, state examinations –administered in areas of public interest
Public and media • Opportunistic and sporadic • United States, Harvard and Princeton – reducing the % of honours awards • Rankings that include data on learner outcomes • Australia, Good Universities Guide – rates and compares institutions and fields of study against twenty criteria
Further consideration • How should these other comparable process be used to complement or even replace external examining? • How can external examining be developed as a competitive advantage?
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