Program assessment board instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction provides guidance and good practice for the program assessment board (herein referred to as the ‘board’) in applying the Assessment: course assessment committee and program assessment board procedure; and Assessment: academic progress (coursework programs) procedure. This instruction should be read in conjunction with those procedures.

The importance of the program assessment board

The board plays a critical role in the management of student matters at the program level, including approval of student completion and the respective award level; and monitoring and managing the academic progress of continuing students. It is a decision-making body, the membership and terms of reference of which are set out in the Course assessment committees and program assessment boards procedure.

Exclusions

VCE and VCAL courses

The research component of higher degree by research programs

Instruction steps and actions:

Instruction (including key points)

Responsibility

Timeline

1. Overview of the main activities of the board

1.1 Determine honours classifications for completing students

This can only be done where all final grades have been recorded and approved, subject to the approval of the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor Learning and Teaching of the College, and in accordance with the Awarding Degrees with Honours or Pass with Distinction Policy.

Any honours calculation that is near a threshold between honours levels should be reviewed in reference to the student’s performance in the program in consultation with the respective course assessment committee to determine whether a result adjustment is warranted to enable the award of a higher honours level.

Moderation of results affecting honours levels should consider GPA values for the penultimate and/or final years of the program.

Other than thresholds, the University rules for GPA-based honours classifications for graduating students should only be varied in extraordinary circumstances and with an auditable and defensible justification.




In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

1.2 Determine pass with distinction for completing students

This can only be done where all final grades have been recorded and approved, and in accordance with the Awarding Degrees with Honours or Pass with Distinction Policy.

1.3 Determine allocation of program-level prizes and awards

This can only be done where all final grades have been recorded and approved. High achieving students should be evaluated for suitability for University prizes and awards. Their names should be added to a list of potential candidates and contact made to obtain any required documentation such as a CV and/or a statement of support for the nomination.

1.4 Determine program completion

Checking for eligibility for completion of a program will normally be carried out by the appropriate professional staff. The board will approve these decisions.

Students with interim results for courses required to qualify for completion of their award are not entitled to participate in the graduation ceremony. Such students should not be marked as having completed the program.




Professional staff

1.5 Award of supplementary assessment

The board may approve the award of a supplementary assessment in the following circumstance only:

  • where a student is enrolled in a program with a volume of learning greater than 96 credit points and has narrowly failed (as defined in the assessment policy) one course in the semester or teaching period in which they would otherwise complete the program, but has passed all other courses required to fulfil the program completion requirements

Where the course is managed by another school, the board may request that school to award a supplementary assessment to the student on the above basis.

The rules governing the award of a supplementary assessment are contained in section six of the Assessment: adjustments to assessment procedure.





School that delivers course

1.6 Managing student academic progress

1.6.1 Identify students with established unsatisfactory academic progress (Final Stage)

Due to the tight timelines associated with census dates and appeals deadlines, the board must review ‘final stage’ students before it considers those identified as at risk ‘first stage’.

Where a student is identified as ‘final stage’ they MUST be sent the template inviting them to show cause why they should not be excluded from the program. The dispatch of this invitation to show cause should be given priority to facilitate the timely management of any possible exclusion and appeal issues. The Academic progress timelines published on the supporting documents and information tab of the Assessment: Academic Progress (Coursework Programs) Procedure provide suggested times for these notices.

Please ensure that the school contact details provided in the invitation to show cause email are up-to-date and provide reliable points of contact for students.






In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

1.6.2 Identify students who are at risk of unsatisfactory academic progress (First Stage)

a) identify which ‘first stage’ at risk option the school will adopt in accordance with the Academic Progress (Coursework Programs) Procedure , (i.e. option 1 is sending the APIP together with the invitation to attend the interview, or option 2 is creating the APIP at the time of the interview)b) nominate an academic advisor to develop an APIP in accordance with either option 1 or 2

b) board secretary emails the relevant template (dependent on the option) to the student and maintains a copy on the student file

c) school records the students at risk status on SAMS (Quick navigation guide – available from the Academic Registrar’s Group)

d) school ensures any follow-up emails (dependent on the option and the student’s interaction) are sent to the student within the set timelines (e.g. an APIP for option 2)

Good practice principles for creating an APIP include:

The APIP should be an unambiguous document that will act as:

  • an action plan for the student; and,
  • a clarification of the expectation of the University regarding the student’s progress

It must be designed to assist the student to complete their academic program within its normal duration and should be tailored to the individual needs of the student. It must:

  • clearly identify on what grounds the student has been deemed to be ‘at risk’
  • be explicit in indicating / referring support services relevant to the student’s needs
  • be explicit in advising students of any relevant policies / procedures
  • notate the reasons provided by the student for their poor academic performance (where provided); and
  • notate any evidence provided by the student in support of any stated impact on their study
  • Academic progress (coursework programs) procedure






In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

1.6.3 Consider student ‘show cause’ submissions

a) the board must decide whether ‘final stage’ students who have been invited to show cause have demonstrated cause to be permitted to remain in the program, or whether to recommend exclusion to the Dean/Head of School. Exclusion has a significant impact on both the student and the University, so it is expected that the board will be satisfied that documented and reasonable attempts have been made to gain the student’s engagement during the period since academic difficulties were first identified.

In considering any show cause submission the board must:

    • exercise academic judgement
    • take account of the student’s overall performance in the program and any other relevant issues
    • take into consideration any exceptional, individual, compassionate or compelling circumstances experienced by the student (the definition of exceptional and compelling circumstances used in the DIISRTE-DIAC course progress policy is provided in attachment 2 as a reference to facilitate alignment between RMIT procedures and that policy), and
    • comply with the privacy principles and policy
    • b) where the board decides to allow a student to continue in their program the student must be invited to attend a further meeting with an academic advisor and another APIP must be completed and provided to the student (whether the student attends the meeting or not)
    • c) where the board decides to recommend exclusion it must specify any conditions for acceptance back into the program. Students wishing to apply for re-admission after the expiry of their period of exclusion my apply via the standard competitive application process/es and their previous academic performance must be taken into account in considering their application
    • d) where the board decides to recommend exclusion and the student submitted a timely show cause submission, the board must provide to the student a detailed response to the student which:
    • directly addresses each of the circumstances, explanations and evidence the student presented in their submission; and
    • states the reason/s these were not sufficient to warrant continuation in the program

b) Students have a right to know on what basis important decisions are made regarding their entitlement to candidature.






In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

1.6.4 Students with interim grades

It is unacceptable to have missing student results by the time of the board meeting. There are a range of interim grades for all legitimate cases where it has not been possible to establish a final grade by the deadline for publication of results. Where a student has more than a single interim grade at the time of the meeting, it may not be possible for the board to assess the student’s academic progress until these issues are resolved. Such students may need to be assessed at a further meeting of the board, after the marking of supplementary and deferred assessments.


In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

1.7 Record the relevant details of the meeting of the program assessment board in an unambiguous and permanent manner

The program assessment board must create a permanent, unambiguous and auditable record of its decisions. This record can be called upon as evidence in student appeals (both internal and external [e.g. Ombudsman Vic. and DICCSRTE]).

At the meeting

A permanent record of the meeting must be created, including at a minimum:

a) time, date and venue of meeting

b) attendance list

c) record of all decisions with reasons for the determinations

Attachment 1 provides an example of good practice in Program Assessment Board meeting recording.

2 General good practice for the conduct of program assessment board meetings

2.1 Frequency of meetings

The board must meet at the end of each semester/term (refer to definitions section of the assessment policy), as course results become available. It may be necessary for the board to meet on more than one occasion to consider results arising from the deferred supplementary assessments, and to consider show cause submissions received from students who have reached the Final Stage of unsatisfactory academic performance.


In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

2.2 Timing of meetings

The Academic progress timelines published on the supporting documents and information tab of the Assessment: Academic Progress (Coursework Programs) Procedure provides suggested timelines for board meetings for both Higher Education and VET for onshore semesters.


In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

2.3 Scheduling meetings – good practice suggestions

The school manager should establish a schedule of meetings including dates, times, venues and participants in accordance with the timelines published on the web for these activities, and the following scheduling principles:

a) ensure meetings are planned in advance and scheduled to coincide with the critical timelines (see above)

b) schedule meetings by program (or by year level within each program). Course coordinators should only need to be in attendance during year level discussions where they have a course in that year level

c) schedule double degree programs with the same second component in a planned way to minimise the time representatives from other schools/colleges need to be in attendance

d) at the end of the year, meetings considering final year students should be scheduled first to allow time for graduation processing

e) meetings considering very large first year classes should be scheduled last to allow the maximum time for finalisation of marking and results entry prior to the meeting

f) action any program assessment board generated result amendments at the meeting (where access to RPO is available) or as soon as possible after the meeting to avoid the need to process amendments to grades after the close or RPO or the advertised date for official publication of results.



In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

2.4 Resources for efficient conduct of the program assessment board meeting

2.5 Actioning program assessment board outcomes

Dispatch of notices to students identified as at risk, first and final stage

Due to the tight timelines between semesters and the need to provide students with mandated appeal and review windows, board outcomes must be actioned as soon as possible following the meeting, and that priority be given to ‘final stage’ notices to ensure timely management of show cause consideration.

Suggested timing of activities and notices is provided in the Academic progress timelines published on the supporting documents and information tab of the Assessment: academic progress (coursework programs) procedure for both Higher Education and VET onshore and are updated each semester.



In accordance with the timelines published for academic progress by the ARG

Further assistance

Minute-taking courses are available for University staff. Contact Human Resources for further information.

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