What Are Assessment Instruments and Marking Guides?

Professional Development

Assessment is a critical aspect of any educational or training program. However, the assessment process can be complex and time-consuming. To simplify this process, assessment instruments and marking guides are used. Let’s explore what assessment instruments and marking guides are and how they can enhance the assessment process. 

Assessment Instruments

In the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, assessment instruments identify the methods or activities that have been prepared to evaluate and measure a learner's skills and knowledge performance in relation to specific vocational competencies. Assessment instruments are designed to assess a student's ability to apply practical skills and theoretical knowledge relevant to their chosen trade or job role. 

Assessment Instruments

Common assessment instruments and methods of assessment used in the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system include:

Direct Observation

Assessors use these instruments to observe and assess a student's performance of specific tasks or skills in a workplace or simulated environment, for example, a cafe. The assessor will have a checklist of steps or tasks that a learner would need to demonstrate to show that they can perform a task to a satisfactory standard, like safely operating a coffee machine. 

Knowledge Questions

Another common assessment method is knowledge questions. These assessment instruments include instructions to the learner and activities like written, oral questioning, or quizzes to assess the student’s knowledge related to their vocational areas such as industry regulations industry standards, or technical knowledge. 

Product Based

The assessment instruments for product-based methods include instructions to learners about what they need to do to demonstrate their practical skills. This would involve performing tasks relevant to their trade or industry area such as conducting repairs on an item or preparing samples of work or products. These methods are not necessarily directly observed by the assessor but may be evaluated later against a list of required criteria that need to be met by the learner. 

Evidence Portfolio

The evidence portfolio assessment instrument should provide detailed instructions to students collating their work samples, projects, or evidence of their achievements and skills developed over time. The portfolio may ask for evidence such as written documents, photographs, videos, or even logbooks. This evidence would be evaluated by the assessor after submission. 

In summary, an assessment instrument documents the methods and activities prepared to evaluate and measure a learner's skills and knowledge and captures the evidence needed to determine competence. Assessment instruments must include enough information to ensure the candidate is clear about the assessment process. This includes what is being assessed, the assessment methods used, any WHS considerations that may affect the assessment, clear instruction to the student about what they need to do, what evidence needs to be gathered and submitted, and the decision-making process. 

Marking Guides

Marking guides, also known as assessor guides, are a companion document to the assessment instrument that assessors use to help ensure that consistent and reliable assessment decisions are being made regardless of who the assessor is. The marking guide is generally a mirror of the assessment instrument but contains additional information and instructions to assist the assessors. This includes benchmark or model answers and performance requirements depending on the method of assessment being used. 

Marking guides, Benchmark examples

Direct Observation - Marking Guide

For direct observation, the marking guide for the observer checklist will contain benchmark examples of the level and quality of performance that the student is expected to demonstrate for each specific task. It may also have examples of things that aren’t considered satisfactory. 

Knowledge Questions - Marking Guide

In the knowledge questions, marking guide benchmark or model answers are provided to the assessor which may be the exact response required, for example, multiple choice questions. A model response, is when a written response may be required and candidates may answer the question differently but still achieve the outcome. It may also include examples of acceptable answers that are from a greater list of possible responses. Benchmark answer instructions may say 'include but not limited to these examples'. 

Product Based - Marking Guide

Product based assessment marking guides are similar to an observation checklist as they still list all of the criteria that would need to be demonstrated by the candidate, however in this method, it's through the product they have submitted for assessment. The checklist would also include any associated levels of quality or quantity that are expected. Rather than direct observation the assessor would use the checklist to evaluate the evidence after it has been submitted. 

Evidence Portfolio - Marking Guide

A marking guide for a portfolio may not differ much, if at all, from the assessment instrument and instructions provided to the learner about what should be submitted in the evidence portfolio including quality and quantity. The assessor would use these same details and instructions to evaluate the evidence that has been submitted and make the assessment decision.

As you can see marking guides are an important part of the assessment process that helps assessors ensure fair, reliable, and consistent assessment judgments to be made. 

If a career as a trainer and assessor is something you're interested in, contact one of our Course Advisors to see how you can get started.

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