I have recently read Michelle Charlton’s excellent article Expectations associated with Assessment and I wholeheartedly agree with her conclusion that providing professional tools for use by professional tradespeople (trainers/assessors) can only do our sector the world of good.
My article will explore how we can still do this but also allow for a little ownership of those tools among our Assessors.
One of the challenges facing VET both in the vocational sector and in schools today is the inflexibility of Assessment Tool Design including the lack of real contextualisation of these Assessment Tools to make them relevant to Industry sectors and the target candidates being assessed.
Adherence to regulatory requirements has led to an increase in the outsourcing of Assessment Tool design in an attempt to ensure that the Assessment Tool meets all of the requirements of the Unit of Competency it looks to assess.
It means that assessors do not have any input into the way that they will be assessing. In many RTO’s and schools, teachers and assessors are handed pre-created, pre-validated “one size fits all” Assessment Tools that they simply need to follow to achieve the intended outcomes for their particular course.
While this certainly ensures consistency in assessment decisions reached, it does not really allow for a thorough understanding of how the Unit of Competency that is being assessed by this Tool can be unpacked to determine the many different ways it could have been assessed and contextualised to meet the actual needs of the learner.
It does not allow for ownership by the assessors using it and I have spoken with many assessors who state they simply “get given the Assessment package” and “go out and use it” without really thinking about how it was created or whether it is actually the most suitable way to determine the competency of the particular students.
They do not explore it, they do not feel the need to look to the Unit of Competency or the Training Package it assesses, they do not feel motivated to understand how the methods of assessment align with the assessment conditions of the Unit and they do not feel that they have any authorship or ownership of the assessments they are conducting on a daily basis – they simply get the job done.
This not only disempowers the assessor who has no claim on the assessments being given to their own candidates, but it leads to a lack of motivation and initiative on the assessor’s part. Why bother learning more if they can’t change things anyway?
Our research into the implementation of the TAE40116 Upgrade Program and the impact this has had on trainers, especially the incorporation of the TAEASS502 Design and develop assessment tools shows us that many assessors in the industry have never actually designed an assessment tool (some have been training for 20 years and have never actually designed their own assessments).
And yet, of the total respondents 63% said they learned something and of this 63%, 86% said they have either changed something or identified something that could be changed, since doing the upgrade.
Allowing assessors ownership of their assessments will lead to greater engagement in the work that they do, which in turn will lead to better, more contextualised, relevant and flexible assessment tools for candidates.
And if we can develop better assessments that engage and actively up-skill our candidates, then what will this lead to….
A better, more skilled workforce.
And isn’t that what this is all about?
Published 2 December 2019
Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.
Emma Siebuhr is National Training Manager at Fortress Learning (RTO. 31974). She possesses a bizarre interest in the TAE and compliance.