Steps in the Assessment Process
The Steps in the Assessment Process are broadly divided into two areas:
The a) Preparatory Phase and b)The Assessment
a. Preparatory phase
• The assessor becomes familiar with the unit standard and/or qualification that he/she is going to assess
- The assessor has to understand the requirements for each component of the unit standard. He/she has to be very clear on how the purpose, specific and critical outcomes, assessment criteria, the range and any other relevant information, will impact on the design of the assessment.
- At this stage it will be helpful to link with other assessors in the same learning area and to agree on the interpretation of the unit standards, as well as on the type and amount of evidence needed.
Also, the assessor has to keep in mind the credibility of the assessment, i.e. the principles of fairness, validity, reliability and practicability, must be at the forefront during planning.
This stage in the preparation for assessments can be sub-divided into three smaller areas:
Discussion with other assessors
- Apart from the obvious advantages of sharing the planning for the assessment, these meetings can also serve as moderation meetings where assessors review each other’s plans and materials and discuss issues such as assessment strategies, evaluation of past assessment materials, new approaches and strategies and the possibilities for the use of more than one assessor, e.g. where ‘team-marking’, or ‘double marking’ will be used.
Discussion with the learning facilitator
- Where the assessor is not the learning facilitator, the assessor would need information about the learning programme, the types and frequency of formative assessments, the available equipment and material that may be used in the assessment and the readiness of learners for the assessment.
Decide on the timing of assessment
- The timing of assessments will depend on the following factors:
- • the rationale for assessments at certain points in the learning programme (formative or summative), i.e. will learners be at a logical end-point of learning, or at a point where a diagnosis needs to be made?
• the sharing of facilities with other assessors
• the extent to which workplace learners will be able to undertake assessments
Assessments are not conducted after time spent in a learning programme, but are conducted when learners will reasonably be ready to be assessed. This is based on the notional hours of a unit standard. However, notional hours is given as the time it would take an ‘average’ learner to complete and meet the requirements. The ideal would be to offer assessments on demand, but practicability will play an important part in a decision of this kind.
• The assessor designs the assessment by selecting the appropriate methods,instruments and designing the appropriate materials (e.g. a test paper)
On the basis of the assessor’s knowledge and understanding of the unit standards/qualification, he/she decides whether to design tasks that require observation, evaluation of products or questioning (or a combination of methods). The situation or contexts for performance will also be clarified at this stage. Appropriate assessment instruments are decided upon and the assessment tools and materials, e.g. checklists, are designed.
Where possible, more than one learning outcome should be assessed simultaneously. Also, the use of more than one method of assessment will ensure that the learner not only demonstrates achievement, but will also be required to prove underpinning knowledge and understanding, as well as the ability to adapt to changed circumstances.
b) The Assessment
- • The assessor informs the learner about the requirements for the assessment
• The assessor reaches an agreement with the learner on how the evidence is to be collected and presented
• The assessor explains the roles and responsibilities of the learner with regard to his/her assessment
It is important that learners understand from the outset what their roles and responsibilities are in terms of their assessments. Also, learners must understand the process of assessment and why it is done in a particular way. They will also need to know what they can expect from the assessor and what the assessor expects from them.
Assessments are meant to be as clear and transparent as possible, therefore learners should know:
- • the kinds of assessment activities that they would be asked to perform
• the standard and level of performance expected
• the type and amount of evidence to be collected
• their responsibility regarding the collection of evidence.
In addition, the learner and assessor should both be satisfied that the timing of the assessment is suitable, that the opportunities identified are suitable, and the venue of the assessment is fit for purpose.
This discussion is also important in that, in cases where mature learners are involved, the learner may be able to alert the assessor to assessment opportunities that the assessor had not been aware of.
Also, the clearer the learner is on the assessment, the less likely an appeal against the assessment decision can be brought.
• The assessor conducts the assesmsent and collects the evidence.
The assessor should ensure that the assesmsent is conducted in an approprate and ono-threatening envionment.
The requirements of the tasks at hand should be approvpriate and clearly communicated.
• The assessor makes a judtgement about the evidence against the criteria aof the unit standrard.
• The assessor provides feedback to the learner with regard to the assesmsnet decision.
The judgement of the evidence can only take place against the pre-determined assessment criteria. The assessor must guard against including superfluous information or evidence in the assessment and against ignoring the criteria due to pre-conceived ideas about the learner. It is here where the skill of the assessor will be tested.
On completion of the assessment the learner has to be informed about what was done correctly and the credits achieved (if any).
In summative assessments, the learner should be clear on whether he/she is competent (or not yet competent) and if not, should be given guidance on how to proceed further.
Formative assessments are developmental in nature – the learner must be clear on what their strengths and/or weaknesses are, and on what and how they can improve.
• The assessor completes the administration according to the ETQA requirements
The assessor has to record the results of the assessment in compliance with the requirements of the provider institution, the ETQA and SAQA. The records, the assessment instruments and materials have to be stored safely in case of appeals and for quality assurance purposes, i.e. moderation.
- • The assessor evaluates the process The evaluation of the process could involve:
• consulting the learner for feedback about the assessment and how the process could be improved
• reviewing the entire process with other assessors
• making appropriate changes which could include recommendations regarding changes to the unit standard or the qualification
• using the assessment results to evaluate the learning programme and strategies used.