What is a Unit Standard

A unit standard can be described as a set of registered statements of desired education and training and their associated assessment criteria, together with administrative and other information.

In other words, a unit standard is an end-statement of the achievement of a certain competence, as well as being a building block for possible qualifications.

Definition:
A unit standard is a document that describes:
• a coherent and meaningful outcome of learning (title) that we want recognised nationally,
• the smaller more manageable outcomes that make up the main outcome (specific outcomes),
• the standards of performance required as proof of competence (assess- ment criteria), and
• the scope and contexts within which competence is to be judged
The information on the following pages must be specified for every unit standard:
Parts of a Unit Standard
1. Unit standard title
Form:
• The title of the unit standard is unique
• That is, the title is different from any other title registered on the NQF.
• The title provides a concise yet comprehensive and pointed indication of the contents of the unit standard.
• The title contains a maximum of 100 characters including spaces and punctuation.
2. Unit standard level
• The level assigned to the unit standard is appropriate in terms of the complexity of learning required to achieve the standard (as described in SAQA’s Level Descriptors).
• The level is appropriate in relation to the learning pathway/s within which the unit standard is located.
Note: Fundamental or Core standards in particular may form part of many different learning pathways.
3. Credit attached to the unit standard
• The definition of a credit is that 1 credit = 10 notional (assumed) hours of learning.
• The credit assignment reflects the average length of time the average learner might take to complete the learning leading to the achievement of the standard.
4. Field and sub-field of the unit standard
• The Fields of Learning have been indicated in Part 3, and the possible sub-fields.
Unit standards must be located within the sub-field and organising field.
Where there is more than one sub-field or organising field to which the standard might apply, this must be clearly indicated and justified, either here or in the brief of the SGB that generated the standard.
5. Purpose of the unit standard
• The format of entries under the heading Purpose follow on from the statement:
‘Persons credited with this unit standard are able to…’
The Purpose of a unit standard includes its specific outcomes togeth- er with a concise statement of the contextualised purpose of the unit standard and what its usage is intended to achieve for:

    – the individual
    – the field or sub-field
    – social and economic transformation

• These entries are phrased as:
Verb + object + modifying phrase(s) (if required)
Example:

‘Analyse and determine remedial action for continuous production process problems’

• The purpose statement succinctly captures what the learner will know and be able to do on the achievement of the unit standard.
• The sub-outcome entries are ‘bulleted’ for easy reading purposes.
Example:

‘Analyse remedial action for …’
‘Determine the …’

6. Learning assumed to be in place
• There is a clear relationship between the credit value of the standard and the learning assumptions.
• [This is the learning assumed to be in place if the learning required to achieve the standard is to be completed in the assigned credit time]
• The statement captures and reflects the knowledge, skill and understanding ‘building blocks’ which are assumed to be in place and which support the learning towards the achievement of the unit standard under consideration.
7. Specific Outcomes
• The format of entries under the heading Specific Outcomes follows on from the statement:
Persons credited with this unit standard are able to:
and these entries are phrased as:
Verb + noun + modifying phrase(s)
Example:

‘Describing how information technology can be integrated into adult basic education and training’

• There are usually between 4 and 6 specific outcomes.
[More than six may indicate that there is more than one purpose that the standard is trying to address. Fewer than four may indicate that the purpose of the unit standard is too narrow].
• The specific outcomes together reflect and capture the purpose of the unit standard in ways that are measurable and verifiable.
• The specific outcome statements focus on competence outcomes and avoid describing specific procedures or methods used in the demonstration of competence. This ensures that unit standards:

    – have broad and inclusive applicability
    – avoid frequent review and overhaul because of procedural or methodological shifts in tendencies
    – focus on competence outcomes for learning and performance, not descriptions of tasks or jobs

• The specific outcomes avoid evaluative statements where possible. [Statements reflecting the quality of performance are located in the assessment criteria].
8. Assessment criteria
• The format of entries under the heading Assessment criteria follow on from the statement:
We will know that you are competent to…
[insert specific outcome]
if or when
[insert assessment criterion]
• Where there is a product, the assessable or measurable criteria for the product may include:

    – accuracy
    – finish / presentation
    – completeness (written information)
    – legibility (written information)
    – clarity (written / spoken information)
    – availability for use / location

• Where work organisation / work role is critical the assessable or measurable criteria for the way work is carried out may include:

    – time / speed / rate
    – schedule
    – procedures involving processes or methods
    – cost effectiveness
    – user specifications or needs
    – optimisation of resources
    – health and safety
    – hygiene
    confidentiality / security
    – dress / appearance
    – language and behaviour
    – creation and maintenance of effective relationships

• The criterion statement sets the guidelines for developing particular
assessment tasks at learning programme or services level rather
than reflecting check lists for one or more assessment instruments.
• The criteria capture the requirements for fair, valid and reliable assessment procedures that make use of tools and methods appropriate to the organising field, sub-field, level, category and the unit standard being registered.
• The assessment criteria capture the underlying and embedded
knowledge base that allows the learner to reflect achievement of the unit standard (through the reflective and repetitive application of that knowledge, skill, ability and value achievement within a range of contexts).
• The assessment criteria must be sufficiently transparent to ensure
ease of understanding across a range of learning providers, learning
services and learners.
9. Range statements
• The range statements relate directly to specific outcomes, assessment criteria or even the standard.
Note: Not all specific outcomes or assessment criteria require range statements.
• There must be a clear relationship between range statements, the
specific outcomes, the purpose of the unit standard, and the assessment criteria delineated for the unit standard.
10. Notes
• This category contains:
– General Notes
– Critical cross-field outcomes as well as
– Embedded knowledge.
Embedded Knowledge:
• The format of entries follows on from the statements:

    – I/Learners can understand and explain…
    – I/Learners can apply…

and these entries are phrased as
Noun + modifying phrase(s)
Example:

‘Integration of information technology and adult basic education and training’

• Where there is an embedded knowledge section it comprises a statement of the knowledge base required for competent performance and achievement of the unit standard, representing what the learner has to understand and be able to explain in the area (sub-field) at the particular level.
• The embedded knowledge statement includes demonstrations of
knowledge of the classificatory systems operating in the area and at the level of the unit standard.
Example:

Understanding of the Linnaean classificatory system in the identification of plants and animals

Critical Cross-Field Outcomes:
• Critical Cross-Field Outcomes are in a ‘matrix’ format that indicates how each outcome is addressed in the standard. The matrix captures the relationship of the purpose, specific outcomes, and embedded knowledge to the critical cross-field outcomes.
The Critical Cross-Field Outcomes are the following:
• identifying and solving problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made
• working effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation, community
• organising and managing oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effectively
• collecting, analysing, organising and critically evaluating information
• communicating effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written persuasion
• using science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others
• demonstrating an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
• contributing to the full personal development of each learner and
the social and economic development of the society at large, by making it the underlying intention of any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:

    – reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effectively;
    – participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities;
    – being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts;
    – exploring education and career opportunities;
    – developing entrepreneurial opportunities

General Notes:
• The general notes act as a range statement for the whole standard. They include:

    – definitions of terms
    – legislation and regulations
    – general information of value to assessors and learning providers

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