Internal Quality Assurance (IQA)

Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) is the process by which a centre regularly samples and evaluates its assessment practices and decisions, and acts on the findings to ensure consistency and fairness.

IQA involves three key processes:

  1. Co-ordination of the assessment process
  2. Internal moderation of assessed work
  3. Standardisation of assessment practice

This IQA process is typically conducted by one IQA or Internal Moderator (IM), or in some cases, more than one, i.e. a team of IQAs (IMs) who are under the direction of a lead IQA.

The role of the IQA is to ensure that:

  • Assessment is appropriate, consistent, fair and transparent and does not unintentionally discriminate against any learner
  • Tutors/assessors receive ongoing advice and support, for example in designing assessment activities
  • Learners clearly understand assessment requirements and are given opportunities to achieve against the assessment criteria
  • Assessments are reliable, valid and consistent
  • Learners’ work is presented in a manner that enables effective EQA to take place
  • Evidence of learner achievement is clearly mapped to the assessment criteria
  • Electronic Recommendations for the Award of Credit (ERAC) are accurate

The IQA will need to arrange, through the Centre’s Quality Assurance Contact (QAC), for the sign off of the Electronic Recommendation of the Award of Credit (ERAC) through OCN London. Signing off will normally be conducted by the Centre’s appointed External Quality Assurer (EQA), or possibly by a specialist EQA.

Internal Quality Assurance is the system that ensures learner evidence is complete and genuinely meets all the required assessment criteria. The process begins with the pre-internal moderation of new or amended assessment tasks to ensure they are appropriate. It is also the system that should identify and alert learners and assessors when they have not assembled evidence that meets all of the assessment criteria – and so are in danger of failing the learners work for that unit. If internal moderation is conducted correctly and in time for the learner to be alerted and supported in producing any additional evidence, then the IQA system can ensure the centre avoids learners being failed unnecessarily.

The IQA is responsible for ensuring all portfolios are ready when presented for EQA. Learners who are found to have gaps in their portfolio of evidence at EQA will be failed because, at that point, there is usually no time for the learner to come back and do any additional work. A robust internal moderation system is therefore key to learner achievement and the IQA has to take responsibility for any learners they put forward being failed by the EQA. The IQA should either pick up shortcomings in time for the learner to address them, or not put that learner forward as having achieved.

A robust IQA system enables the EQA normally to only be required to sample learners’ work as opposed to scrutinising all the learners’ portfolios. The EQA relies on the effectiveness and integrity of the centre’s internal quality assurance system to not put forward learners who have not achieved. If the EQA finds the internal moderation process is not effective and/or performed with absolute integrity, for example putting forward learners for an award whose work does not justify this, then the EQA will be forced to instead consider a much greater number of learners’ evidence themselves. Considering more learners is time consuming for the EQA and will cause delay. This situation may also result in the centre being awarded a ‘high risk’ status, since the integrity of the awarding system would be seen as compromised.

The IQA(s) also usually need only sample learner work to ensure their assessors are assessing fairly across different units, assessors and levels. The IQA’s sample can also show that the Assessor has ensured that learner evidence is appropriate, effectively labelled, and fully ready for the EQA to consider. However, the sample strategy needs to ensure it covers appropriate elements, and including all different assessors, all different levels and different units or subject areas. The minimum sample is five portfolios or if less than five, all the portfolios. For larger groups it should be 10%, however, this may vary depending on the size of the overall group, numbers of assessors and complexity of the course. If there is uncertainty about what would constitute an appropriate sample size, the advice of the EQA should be sought.

Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) templates

OCN London has developed a set of internal quality assurance (IQA) templates for use as part of the IQA process and which are available for centres to use in the Internal Quality Assurance area.

These are based on good practice in centres as identified by External Quality Assurers (EQAs).

Use of these is not mandatory but recommended to new centres and to existing centres reviewing their IQA practice. Internal Quality Assurance forms for the Access to HE Diploma are available in the Access to HE Centre area.

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