Benchmarking first year assessment and standards across three institutions in the first year of the law program

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Collins, P, Corbett-Jarvis, N, Schillmoller, AL & Shircore, M 2011, ' Benchmarking first-year assessment and standards across three institutions in the first year of the law program', paper presented to First year experience in law school: a new beginning conference, Gold Coast, Qld., 2 July.


With the introduction of the new higher education quality agency, TEQSA, there is a renewed emphasis on the development of transparent standards and quality assurance. In law this has included the development of Threshold Learning Outcomes through the ALTC standards law project team (Kift and Israel, 2010). A question that arises is how threshold learning outcomes, standards and graduate attributes can be measured objectively across the sector. Of particular interest is how universities, particularly in regional centres which cater to a wide diversity of students, ensure that the standard and quality of students is equal to that of other institutions. How do we, as the teachers at the coalface, feel confident that the learning outcomes and standards we are expecting and imposing on our students are appropriate? In response to these questions, the presenters of this paper determined that one of the most effective ways to identify the standard of student learning outcomes is through the external moderation and benchmarking of assessment items. Forming a project team across the three institutions in 2010, we have developed protocols and criteria to objectively cross-mark a selection of unidentified assessment items from each of the three law schools. This paper will report on why this innovative project was undertaken, how it was implemented and the how the results gathered are being used to develop best practice in assessment standards across first year law.