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Academic calibration

Academic Calibration at CDU is an external peer review process that is undertaken in collaboration with other Innovative Research Universities (IRU). The calibration process aims to provide a comparable review and constructive feedback on grades awarded, and the relationship between assessment and learning outcomes for selected higher education units.

Academic calibration aims to:

  • demonstrate the appropriateness of the standards of learning outcomes and grades awarded in IRU universities
  • maintain and improve the academic standards of IRU
  • enable comparisons of learning outcomes in similar subjects across IRU
  • promote discussion on good practice in learning and teaching across IRU.

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Academic calibration supports CDU in meeting the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards), in particular the requirement that:

Review and improvement activities include regular external referencing of the success of student cohorts against comparable courses of study, including... the assessment methods and grading of students’ achievement of learning outcomes for selected units of study within courses of study.
(Higher Education Standards Framework 2015, Section 5.3, Part 4.b.).

The 2015 standards come into effect January 1, 2017.

While calibration meets the Threshold standards, it was developed by universities to ensure the process is beneficial and efficient for academics and students, acknowledging there is existing confidence in the sector on the professionalism of academics in delivering units and grading assessments.

CDU has seen that there is a clear benefit for students and academics in calibrating units as it provides insight into comparable units across the country, and provides valuable unit feedback, continually raising the standard of CDU Learning and Teaching.

CDU will be increasing the amount of unit calibrations that are undertaken on an annual basis, and also encourages staff to register to become reviewing academics for external units requesting calibration.


The four key components to Academic calibration


Each university selects units they would like to calibrate. These are distributed to calibration coordinators at each university to find suitable reviewing academics. The university having the unit calibrated will select a reviewing academic from  the recommendations provided.


The unit coordinator will collate three assessments from each grade bracket, and associated information e.g. unit outline, learning outcomes; and send to their calibration coordinator. The coordinator will de-identify assessments, and send onto the reviewing university.


The reviewing academic will have a two week window to assess materials provided, and write a short evaluative report using existing report forms. The report is returned to the unit coordinator to review.

Please note: reviewing academics do not redesign assessment tasks, remark student work or standardise student grades.  The review is retrospective of the grade given and does not influence the grades awarded to students.


Upon completion both academics complete a small survey on their calibration experience.  After all documentation is returned an honorarium is paid to the reviewing academic.


Unit and Course Coordinators

  • Academics find calibration beneficial as it gives them context and coverage on how similar units are being run nationally.
  • The report provides valuable and constructive feedback to improve units, which may improve delivery for students.
  • Coordinators have documented endorsement and confidence in the reliability of their assessment and grading.

Reviewing Academics

  • Reviewing academics have reported gaining insight and knowledge to reflect on their own units.
  • Being selected as a reviewer from a pool of universities is notable, and there is an honorarium payment for the service.

Schools and Faculties

  • Having calibrated units within your school/faculty means you contextualise the assessment and grading of your units in a broader national context.
  • Calibration is documented endorsement of the consistency and reliability of your school/faculties assessment and grading methods, comparative to the sector.
  • Along with other quality processes such as course review, the school/faculty demonstrates it engages in proactive improvements, continually raising the standard of learning and teaching.

Support Guides

Please refer to the following guides if you are participating, or interested in participating in Academic Calibration:


Below are copies of the templates that are used as part of the Academic Calibration Process:

Calibrator Declaration Form (PDF 796KB)

The Calibrator must sign this form, and comply with its requirements as part of the calibration process.

Calibration Report (PDF 332KB)

This is the report template that is used by the Calibrator to make their assessment.

Process Evaluation - Unit Coordinator (PDF 726KB)

Process Evaluation - Calibrator (PDF 727KB)

Both the Unit coordinator, and Calibrator are asked to provide some brief feedback on the process so we can continually review and improve the process.

Optional Documents

Calibrator Tally Sheet (Word document 27KB)

As part of the assessment materials, the Calibrator may be provided with a tally sheet to be able to track their assessment of, and provide comment on any particular de-identified samples.

Context Statement (PDF 133KB)

This document is avaiable to the Unit coordinator, should they wish to provide important details that are not immediately obvious in the documentation.


If you are interested in learning more about academic calibration, having a unit calibrated, or registering your interest in becoming a reviewing academic, please contact the Office of Learning and Teaching: