Prince Sultan University PSU
Policy Management System
Procedure for Independent Verification of Student Achievement

Policy Code: QA0009
Policy Name: Procedure for Independent Verification of Student Achievement
Handler: Quality Assurance Center
Date Created: 15 August 2020
Date of Current Review: 15 August 2020
Approved by: University Council
Date of Approval:


This policy is related to Management of Quality Assurance and Improvement in which internal and external verification processes of student achievement will be implemented by the departments or Colleges.

Step 1: Planning

  1. In each academic semester, the course instructors are required to use the same course specification, which indicates the CLOs, course topics, grade distribution (100%), teaching strategies, and assessment methods. These components should be the same.
  2. The course syllabus should be the prepared based on the course specification.
  3. The course instructors are not allowed to make any change in the course specification with respect to CLOs, course content, teaching strategies, or assessment methods unless the change is approved by the department curriculum committee. A change request form (See Appendix A) should be used by the course instructor/course coordinator to request any relevant change(s) with proper rationale.
  4. The course coordinator responsible for any service course, which is a program/core requirement in any program, is required to constantly communicate with the concerned program leaders for mapping the course learning outcomes with the program learning outcomes and offer the course according to the requirements of the program.
  5. The major and final exams should be peer-reviewed by the faculty assigned by the department. This will help the course instructor in meeting the examination standards specified by a department and avoiding grade inflation/deflation.
  6. It is a good practice to unify the major and final exams across the campuses, provided they are administered on the same day and have the same timings. However, in practical circumstances it is not possible for all the courses. The most important criteria are required to be followed for ensuring the quality of the major and final examinations in the department:
    1. Same CLOs are assessed in major and final exams
    2. The difficulty level of the exam questions should be the same, no matter if the questions are different.
    3. The course instructors should also agree on the types of questions included in exams.
    4. The selection of types of questions should reflect assessment for different domains of learning outcomes.
    5. The assessment should have a variety of question types (e.g. short answer, essay, MCQs, problem/solution, T/F etc...) and be aligned with the course’s CLOs.
      Note: There might be some courses decided by the department where point e is not applicable
    6. The questions should show variation with respect to difficulty levels.
    7. The duration of the final exam for a course is based on its credit hours e.g. for a course with 3 credit hours, the final exam should be of 3 hours’ duration. Note: There is an exception for the PYP courses with respect to the final exam duration. The final exams are only for 3 hours for the courses with 4 credit hours.
    8. The length of the major/final exam should correspond to the amount of time allotted to complete it (e.g. 3 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour etc...) and should be written so as to prevent the students from completing the exam prior to 50% of the allotted time so that the full time is utilized properly.
    9. There should be no grammatical or calculation mistakes.
    10. The final exams should be comprehensive, assessing the majority of the CLOs in a course. A minimum of 70% of all course learning outcomes (CLOs) are to be covered on the final exam.
    11. The final exam marks are required to be a minimum of 40% of the total course grade according to the regulations of the university.

Step 2: Implementation

The following steps should be followed for checking the quality of the exam paper.

  1. The department should nominate faculty members for peer reviewing the exam papers. The selection criteria should be based on the faculty members’ teaching experience in that course.
  2. A peer review form should be prepared by the department. (See Template B)
  3. The instructor should submit a hard copy of the exam paper along with its answer key and the peer review form duly signed to the peer reviewer
  4. The peer reviewer should review the questions based on the criteria mentioned in the planning step and sign the form if it is approved. The records of the peer review form will show how the quality of the final exam papers are being reviewed /evaluated in a department.

Step 3: Verification

The academic programs are required to implement the process of independent verification of standards of student achievement within the institution for at least 50% of the courses offered by them.

Internal Verification of Student Achievement: This verification process should be implemented once a year.

  1. The department can select in the beginning of the academic year 50% of the courses offered by the department for the internal verification process. (Tips: Initially the verification can be started with the core courses only and then later on, it can be extended to university, college level and elective courses).
  2. The department or course coordinators can nominate the faculty members as the reviewers/cross-graders for the courses selected in step 1.
  3. The reviewers/cross-graders can be either the instructors from the relevant course group or instructors teaching the same course within or across the campuses depending on the programs offered at PSU.
  4. The reviewers/ cross graders will randomly select students answer sheets based on the following criteria
    • For sections with small student numbers (less than 10), all student answers to final exam are to be moderated.
    • For sections with 10 or more students, the following should be applied:
      1. 50% of the student answers should be moderated
      2. Sample of student answers should include at least
        1. At least 3 copies of highest pool
        2. At least 3 copies of the lowest pool
        3. At least 3 copies of the average pool.
  5. The course instructor will photocopy the student answers from a major/final exam before marking them and hand them over to the reviewer along with the answer key and the RUBRIC.
  6. The internal reviewer/ cross -grader will do the blind second marking of the selected samples by reviewing the work selected and consider whether the assessment criteria have been applied appropriately and consistently.
  7. The academic departments can use paired t-test (optional) or any other suitable method to compare the two population means and calculate the confidence interval for the grades’ mean difference. This test helps in determining the degree of confidence that all sections within a campus or across the campuses are grading the exams fairly and according to the predefined grade distribution. If there is a major discrepancy in the marks, then other papers will also be reviewed. In some cases, the instructor (first marker) may also be asked to review or change the grades.
    • When the internal reviewer/ cross –grader confirms the marks of the instructor (first marker), then a report is prepared by him/her (See Template – C) to the Course Group leader. The approved report with recommendations (if any) is sent to the Department Chairperson and the QA Committee at the department level (DQC)
    • The QA Committee at the department level (DQC) will analyze the grading of the instructor and the internal reviewer/ cross-grader and prepare a compiled report with general or specific recommendations (if any) on the verification of student achievement within the college or institution.
    • The QA Committee at the College level (CQC) in coordination with the College/Department Final Examination Committee will ensure that the department conforms to the process of student verification. The CQC will approach the QAC in case of any quality matters raised.
    • The QA Committee at the Department level (DQC) will also compute the data for the KPI: Proportion of programs in which there was independent verification within the institution of standards of student achievement during the year. This KPI data is required to be verified by the CQC.