National external moderation summary reports

510 Introduction to Commercial Law - 2016 semester 1


This report provides a national perspective on the moderation of 510 Introduction to Commercial Law.

Assessment materials from 19 tertiary education organisations (TEOs) were moderated for this prescription. 

Of the 19 submissions:

  • seven (37 per cent) met all key assessment requirements
  • a further seven (37 per cent) met key assessment requirements overall, but require some modification before next course delivery
  • the remaining five (26 per cent) did not meet key assessment requirements and modification/redevelopment and post-assessment resubmission is required.

Overall, this was an improvement on the previous national moderation in terms of a reduction in the number of resubmissions (50 per cent in the 2013 moderation round).

Areas where modification or redevelopment was required were:

  • Learning outcomes in the prescription not assessed or not adequately assessed (10 submissions)
  • Assessments not at the appropriate level (six submissions)
  • Insufficient guidance provided for assessors in marking guides/schedules (five submissions)
  • Exceeding the allowable variance in assessments against prescription weightings (three submissions)
  • Assessment tasks outside the prescription (three submissions)
  • Errors in allotted marks between assessment instruments and marking schedules (three submissions)
  • Lack of clarity in assessment instructions (one submission).

Presentation of assessment materials

Overall, submissions were well-presented and followed the guidelines. 16 providers chose to submit materials for moderation digitally. Two submissions omitted key assessment material.

Assessment grids

Overall, assessment grids were well compiled and useful to the moderators. Three submissions contained incomplete grids or grids lacking sufficient information.

Assessment activities

The key considerations for moderators were whether tasks:

  • assessed all prescription learning outcomes, with appropriate weightings
  • were at the appropriate level.

Learning outcomes

10 out of 19 submissions (53 per cent) did not fully assess all the learning outcomes in terms of their key elements. The most common omission was learning outcome three, key element b), capacity of companies. This omission on its own did not lead to a ‘No’ in Section B, but seven submissions did not cover between five and ten key elements. Part of the reason for this appeared to be providers assessing against previous versions of the prescription. 

Three submissions assessed material that is no longer part of the prescription, for the same reason as given above. Assessing material outside the prescription does not of itself lead to a ‘No’ in Section B but it increases the assessment load in what is already a full prescription. Examples include learning outcome two, key element b) “either negligent action or negligent misstatement” (both being assessed); learning outcome three, key element b) “one of undue influence, unconscionable bargains” (both being assessed).


Overall, 16 submissions assessed to the allowable prescription weightings up to a 10 per cent variance or marginally over. Three submissions with variances of between 15–18 per cent were considered unacceptable. Actual variance on assessment instruments should be compared with the variances given in the assessment grid because the two often do not match even though the variance may be within the allowable limit.


Overall, 13 submissions (68 per cent) were at the required level of assessment but six submissions (32 per cent) were not. There were two main issues here:

  • Learning outcome one requires students to “explain” core elements of the New Zealand legal system. Open-book assessment and/or multi-choice questions are often problematic for achieving the learning outcome because they only require a student to copy from a text or choose a multi-choice response that does not demonstrate “explanation” (understanding). This was a disappointing result as it was cited as a major issue in the last moderation round. It is recommended that some form of closed-book assessment be used to assess this learning outcome.
  • Learning outcomes two, three, four, and five require some “application” of knowledge to be demonstrated. This requires more than recalling or comprehending knowledge. Three submissions did not achieve this requirement. This was also a major issue in the 2013 moderation round.

Assessment conditions and instructions

The key consideration for moderators was whether assessment conditions and instructions were clear, appropriate and fair to learners.

Overall, most submissions provided clear instructions to students as to what was required in assessments. Of some concern though was three submissions where the allotted marks in the assessment instruments and the marking schedules did not tally, clearly a lack of proofing of the assessment material.

Assessment schedules

The key considerations for moderators were whether schedules:

  • gave examples of learner responses (e.g. model answers, and/or a range of appropriate answers, and/or quality criteria for answers) that met prescription requirements
  • provided a sufficiently detailed breakdown of marks to ensure consistent marking.

Overall, 14 out of 19 submissions (74 per cent) met this requirement. Five submissions did not. The reasons were a mixture of:

  • A lack of sufficient criteria to justify marks awarded for questions and to justify a range of student responses.
  • Insufficient breakdown of marks to ensure consistent marking. Qualitative rubrics are fine if a question lends itself to that approach, otherwise questions worth more than 3 or 4 marks should state the criteria for earning marks unless the allocation is obvious, for example “state 5 reasons for 5 marks.”

Assessor decisions

The key considerations for moderators were whether:

  • marking rewarded a similar quality of work with similar marks
  • marking rewarded learner work in a manner consistent with prescription requirements.

18 out of 19 submissions (95 per cent) met this requirement. 1 submission awarded marks that did not correlate with the marking schedule.


As stated, overall there was an improvement on the number of resubmissions required compared to the 2013 moderation round. However, a number of key issues still need to be addressed by a number of providers. These are:

  • ensuring that all of the key elements in the prescription are assessed
  • assessing learning outcomes at the appropriate level
  • ensuring marking schedules provide sufficient quality criteria for the allocation of marks and sufficiently detailed breakdown of marks to ensure consistent marking.
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