From Section A of the WIT Quality Manual
8.4 Duties of External Examiners
Approval of Examination Papers and Other Materials
8.4.1 External Examiners are responsible for the detailed work of monitoring assessment and assessment outcomes and ensuring that standards are maintained in particular subject areas is done by people who are suitably qualified for this role.
8.4.2 School or award externs, will ensure that the micro level focus of the subject externs is balanced by a macro level focus on the programme. Ideally there would be communication between the subject externs and the School or award externs, as well as between the externs and the relevant internal staff.
8.4.3 External Examiners are responsible for specific subjects or subject groups and will do the detailed work of monitoring assessment practices and outcomes for all modules provided in the specific subject areas under their remit across the institution.
8.4.4 In relation to the particular set of modules under the External Examiner’s control, the subject external examiner would be responsible for, inter alia:
• approving the assessment instruments (including ensuring that these instruments are aligned with the module learning outcomes);
• signing off on the standards of marking (ensuring marking is fair, consistent etc.);
• ensuring standards for the subject / discipline area concerned are consistent across the institution;
• ensuring standards for the subject / discipline area concerned are consistent with national and international standards in the field;
• advising on the enhancement of existing modules and of teaching, learning and assessment practices as well as on the development of new modules in the area as appropriate.
8.4.5 External Examiner may attend the Institute for subject group assessment meetings instead of for exam board meetings.
8.4.6 The Head of Department shall ensure that assessment material, including continuous assessment materials, is provided to the External Examiner in good time.
8.4.7 Where the External Examiner wishes to suggest amendments to draft examination papers, the Examiner may do so in writing. The Internal Examiner shall take such proposed amendments into account, and shall note action taken, if any. This will be retained as a record by the relevant School. Normally the input from the External Examiner and the responses of the School to the recommendations are summarized in the Annual Programme Board report.
8.4.8 Where a significant dispute occurs between an Internal and External Examiner in relation to an examination paper or an examination result, a report, prepared by the School, shall be submitted to the Registrar for consideration by the Academic Quality Committee of the Academic Council.
8.4.9 If an external examiner reports that standards are not being achieved a report should be prepared by the relevant programme board and forwarded through the School Board to Academic Council.
Oral, Practical or Performances Examinations, and Presentations
8.4.10 External Examiners with specific responsibility for modules that have oral, performance or practical examinations specified in their programme schedules as an examination requirement, shall normally be expected to attend all or part of such assessments.
8.4.11 Where such assessments are carried out in the absence of the External Examiner, a recording of the assessment shall be made and a representative sample of this recorded material shall be monitored by the External Examiner as part of the External Examiner’s duties.
8.4.12 Following an examination, the External Examiner is required to see a representative sample of examination material presented by candidates. The sample should normally include the best script, a number of borderline scripts at each level in the case of award years and a random sample of the remainder, with sufficient material, including, where feasible, relevant statistical data to enable the External Examiner(s) to form a judgment as to the appropriateness of the marking at all levels of classification.
8.4.13 The External Examiner should receive the following:
i. A sample of scripts as specified above;
ii. Course work for this sample where practicable;
iii. Copies of the examination papers and marking schemes;
iv. Original of the Institute’s mark sheet showing the aggregation and final mark for each candidate in a subject;
v. A statistical overview of pass/fail rates within the module and across the programme.
8.4.14 External Examiners shall normally attend the Institute at the time of determination of coordinating results and at such other times as may be determined by the Institute in consultation with the External Examiner for the purpose of assessing the standard of the module /programme and/or the standard of student performance.
8.4.15 The appropriateness of examination materials to the level of award concerned shall be a primary consideration of the External Examiner.
8.4.16 External Examiners shall determine whether:
i. the assessment and determination of awards processes have been fairly conducted and
ii. the standard of the student performance is adequate for the relevant stage of the programme.
8.4.17 The External Examiner shall pay particular attention in award stage of a programme to the distribution of marks achieved and the grades of award attributed.
8.4.18 External Examiners may be asked to review scripts/continuous assessments/projects where the final marks are appealed. However students may not request a re-examination of a script by an examiner.
Attendance at Examination Board Meetings/Visiting the Institute
8.4.19 External Examiners may visit the Institute once in each academic year. This visit would normally take place at the time of award stage Examination Boards.
8.4.20 When visiting the Institute, the duties of External Examiners shall be:
i. to review borderline cases and, if necessary, to interview such candidates;
ii. to review a random sample of the cohort’s scripts. Where an examination module is examined by other forms of assessment, the External Examiner shall review a sample of this work;
iii. to review the overall performance of candidates;
iv. to review the success of the examination materials in determining the levels of student achievement;
v. to attend the appropriate Examination Board meeting;
vi. to participate in the determination of final marks and results of each candidate at the Examination Board meeting;
vii. to review the exhibition of candidates’ work, to interview a selection of candidates and to agree the final marks/grades for each candidate (in the case of assessment based on the presentation of a portfolio) and to attend final year performances and participate in the determination of marks for the candidates (in the case of assessments based on performance);
viii. to sign the Broadsheet of examination results thus indicating that assessment processes have been carried out in accordance with the policy and regulations of the Institute;
ix. to interact with examiners in the subject area on matters related to teaching and assessment which enable best practice to be shared in the spirit of knowledge exchange. This could include periodic seminars on topics of mutual interests.
8.4.21 The External Examiner may comment on such matters relating to individual student performance, module performance, or programme performance as the External Examiner deems necessary. The Examination Board shall give due consideration to such comments.
8.4.22 The External Examiner may request to have the examiner’s dissenting opinion on any matter recorded on the Broadsheet.
8.4.23 The External Examiner shall indicate on the module marking sheet any proposed adjustment to the marks/grades as proposed by the Internal Examiner. Efforts should be made to achieve consensus with the Internal Examiner in relation to such proposed amendments. The External Examiner is a member of the Examination Board where collective decisions are the norm.
8.4.24 Where the External Examiner proposes adjustments to a group of students as a whole, the Examiner shall consult with the Internal Examiner in advance of the meeting of the Examination Board. Efforts should be made to achieve consensus in relation to such proposed amendments.
8.4.25 External Examiners are required to submit a full report on each examination with which they are involved not later than September 30th of the academic year following the year in which the examinations considered have taken place. The report should cover all relevant assessment and should be made in sufficient detail to enable the Programme Board to derive substantial benefit from its contents.
8.4.26 This report should be sent to the Registrar of the Institute on the appropriate report form. The Registrar will make a copy of each report available to the Head of School and Head of Department. The Head of Department will ensure that the contents of the report are communicated appropriately to the relevant Programme Boards. It is normal that all members of the Board receive a copy of the report.
8.4.27 It is understood that External Examiners’ reports should act as an input into all quality assurance procedures at module, programme and academic unit level and that action should be taken and reported on where recommendations are issued. The School shall routinely report on External Examiner reports and the School’s responses to those reports through the reports of its School Board to the Academic Council. In the first instance, External Examiner reports and actions taken as a consequence of recommendations should be summarized in Annual Programme Board reports submitted to the School Board from each programme in the School. School Boards will normally consider reports from each examiner in the first instance before offering an overview of all reports to Academic Council. As circumstances dictate, the School Board or, in some cases, the Programme Board directly may report more than once annually to Council and may be required to do so at the behest of the Registrar.
8.4.28 It is normal and appropriate for External Examiners to receive timely feedback on their reports. This may happen at module level and be visible in changes, for example, to an examination paper or may be appropriately addressed at another level within the Institution as well as in formal responses. At the very least the External Examiner should receive a copy of the Annual Programme Board report. The Examiner should contact the Head of Department/School if there are any instances where feedback has not been adequately received.
8.4.29 The report of the External Examiner is a public document and will be made available for internal and external quality assurance purposes.
8.5 Communications with External Examiners
8.5.1 The External Examiner will receive the following documentation:
i. Description of role and duties as set out above (on appointment and as modified by subsequent Academic Council policy decisions) from the Office of the Registrar;
ii. External Examiner Report templates in paper and electronic formats (annually) from the Office of the Registrar;
iii. WIT Academic Regulations for Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate (annually) from the Office of the Registrar;
iv. Module syllabi as set out in relevant CE2 document and as modified by subsequent Academic Review and established in the Programme Schedule from the relevant School Office;
8.5.2 At the appropriate time, but well in advance of the relevant examination session, the External Examiner will receive from the Head of Department, through the School Office, the draft examination papers (for approval) together with detailed marking schemes. In addition, in modules where there are no final examination papers, the method of assessment and marking schemes will also be provided.
8.5.3 Following the examination, the Head of Department shall make available to the External Examiner a representative sample of scripts, project work and any other materials submitted for assessment including programme work. A record of material made available shall be kept by the School and its return shall be noted.
8.5.4 The External Examiner shall be advised in good time by the School Office as to the times and dates of proposed examination boards at the Institute.