1.1 Explain the function of assessment in learning and development.
The function of assessment in learning and development, is to provide measurable progress and record of achievement, within the agreed standards or criteria, that have been set for performance. The three categories of assessment are Initial, Formative and Summative assessment.
The initial assessment category can identify any prior learning that has taken place, and any individual needs and support required, to allow timely progress throughout learning and development. At initial assessment, it may also be appropriate to go through and complete an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), ensuring that during any learning and development, these can be referred to, showing progression to a set goal within the ILP, or where further development is required. By setting goals for assessment to meet the individual learning requirements, an inclusive learning environment is promoted.
Formative assessment is ongoing assessment throughout any learning. This can be to a set goal within the ILP, or can be used to identify where additional support is needed, if there are any specific areas identified for development.
Summative assessment usually occurs at the end of any learning, in the form of written tests or examinations. It provides a mechanism for which further learning and development has been identified, or for a specific goal that can be reached by any summative assessment.
Initial assessment is also the first stage of the Assessment cycle, which covers initial assessment, assessment planning, assessment activity, assessment decision and feedback, and review of progress.
After the initial assessment, planning for assessment takes place, which must be against set criteria, and be measurable. It reduces the amount of time that is required to conduct the end-to-end assessment process, by having clear and defined guidelines set up. Planning the assessment also gives a clear framework, within which any assessment about learning and development takes place, and provides a strategic direction of the learning and development. It defines the learning outcomes being assessed, with the when and how they will be done.
The next stage of the assessment cycle is the assessment activity that takes place, where this is measured, and where it is recorded. This needs to be fit-for-purpose and is either formative or summative as detailed above, and should be done to reflect required standards and assessment/performance criteria.
Following the assessment activity, there is the assessment feedback and decision part of the assessment cycle. This is where any evidence that has been prepared is assessed, and a decision recorded. The recording of that decision is done within the set guidelines, and shared with all stakeholders who have a vested interest in the outcome. This may include the awarding organisation, potential employers and others.
The final part of the assessment cycle is the review of progress. This may be to measure progress and achievements against the standards in place, or to provide data that can be used for quality-assurance and improvement processes against set national standards or best practices.
1.2 Define the key concepts and principles of assessment.
Key concepts of assessment, are the aspects involved throughout the assessment process. One of these key aspects is accountability. Assessment is accountable to all learners throughout the whole assessment process. Any learner should know why they are being assessed, and what they need to do to meet any assessment criteria. There is also accountability to award organisations, if the award is accredited, and to employers, if their staff are being assessed in any work environment for which they have responsibility.
Evaluation of the assessment process needs to take place, and feedback from all parties involved. This informs current, and future processes and aspects, of any assessment that takes place.
Another aspect involved throughout the assessment process is progression, when assessing what needs to be done next, and by whom it needs to be done by. The types of assessment, identified as Initial, Formative and Summative, as well as diagnostic assessment – which may identify the current knowledge of learners, and which may have additional assessment requirements.
Assessment activities must be fit for purpose, with decisions and feedback fit for purpose taking into account any prior learning identified at initial assessment, and fit-for-purpose with any planning decisions and feedback being justifiable and safe.
Principles of assessment are how the assessment process is put into practice. Assessments should be Sufficient, Current, Authentic, Reliable and Valid (SCARV). They should be fair and take into account confidentiality and be fit-for-purpose within any criteria set by an examining body. Within the context of SCARV, assessments should be valid with any process for assessment being appropriate for the assessment criteria that is being assessed.
All work should be relevant, sufficient and current, for the criteria to which it is being assessed. It needs to be authentic, with no doubt, as to the validity of it being the learner’s own work.
Any assessment should follow the principles of SCARV of being current, and up to date with examining bodies requirements, as well as the learner being up to date on current methods, skills and knowledge within their chosen professional area.
The aim of assessment is to track the progress and give constructive and informative feedback to learners. This helps improve a learner’s progress and inspires them to achieve. By gathering and recording of evidence from assessment, it can be measured against agreed objectives and criteria. It allows any measurable data to be use to track learner, group and overall organizational performance against specific learning domains.
Bandler and Grinder (1979) Psychomotor/Cognitive/Affective assessment of specific learning domains describes how the doing (Psychomotor), thinking (Cognitive), and feeling (Affective) are important elements in setting an optimal learning experience and having clear objectives within assessment.
1.3 Explain the responsibilities of the assessor.
The responsibility of the assessor is to carry out and agree assessments on learners, in accordance with any award criteria that is set out. They are responsible for supporting the learner through the end-to-end process of learning, including agreeing the best assessment methods to use, to an agreed plan, and giving constructive and developmental feedback in a timely manner. Any feedback given should include what has been achieved to date, and what is required next, leading up to the next assessment.
It is the responsibility of the assessor to ensure that all data relating to the learner is help in a safe and secure environment and shared only with the consent of the person to whom the data relates to, in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998).
It is the responsibility of the assessor to review all progress with the learner and employers, if necessary, in a timely manner, and to any agreed standards that may be in place. It is also the responsibility of the assessor to make any candidate aware of any appeals process that is in place, and who they would need to speak to if they disagreed with any assessment decisions, or outcomes that they received during the learning process.
It is also the responsibility of the assessor to maintain occupational competency within each area of their role, where it is required, and maintain levels of standards alongside other assessors. This is possibly done by maintenance of a Continued Personal Development (CPD) plan, that assessors are responsible for maintaining, to show their level of continued competency within any specialised area.
Part of the assessment cycle is for assessment planning, which assessors are responsible for, and must deliver, in accordance with the assessment criteria, timescales and methods agreed with all individual learners. As well as supporting individual learners through the learning process, assessors are responsible for attendance at any meetings, and to maintain any internal records of achievements for the learners within the guidelines that have been set by employers and the awarding organisation if necessary.
1.4 Identify the regulations and requirements relevant to assessment in own area of practice.
When conducting any assessments for individuals over the age of 16, there is certain government legislation that must be taken into account, including The Equality Act (2010), The Data Protection Act (1998), Freedom of Information Act (2000), Copyright Designs and Patents Act (1988).
The Equality Act (2010) unifies a number of existing pieces of legislation and makes it unlawful to discriminate based on any of the following: Race, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Religion, Gender Reassignment, Pregnancy, Marriage and Civil Partnership, and Age.
Because of the diverse nature of learners with respect to culture, language and ethnicity, any material produced must take this into account, otherwise aspects of it will be mis-understood and place the learner at a disadvantage – especially during assessment.
Processing of data, and the sharing of data is governed by the Data Protection Act (1998). The principles of this act restrict the processing of personal data about individuals. Permission is required before any information relating to an individual learner is shared or passed on.
There are a number of health and safety regulations that an assessor must be aware of, not only to ensure that these are followed, but they are aware of them namely: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992, Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 and Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a personal responsibility to report any potential hazard, and to ensure that any assessments sites, activities, and equipment, have the necessary health and safety controls in place, though appropriate risk assessments having been carried out.
During any assessment, a duty of care must be in place to ensure that the correct governance and regulatory rules are followed. This is especially important when taking into account any safeguarding requirements that must be adhered to under law. Safeguarding is defined as ‘A vulnerable person aged 18 years old or over, who is the receipt of, or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability’.
Regulatory bodies are such as The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations (Ofqual) are also likely involved, as they maintain regulatory governance of standards that must be followed. The Sector Skills Council regulations may also be involved for any assessment strategy that needs to be followed.
2.1 Compare the strengths and limitations of a range of assessment methods with reference to the needs of individual learners.
There are a number of different assessment methods that can be used. By observing individual learners during the assessment process, allows learners within the workplace to demonstrate, the skills that they have learnt, and apply them to real, and actual situations. As an assessor, evidence can, in this instance of observation, be holistically gathered for a variety of assessment criteria. Observations are however time consuming and only link, at times, to limited criteria. Detailed preparation is required, and it may not always be possible to get agreement from all parties to allow observational assessments to be carried out within the work environment, due to work regulations and time constraints.
Oral questioning is another assessment method that can be carried out. This gives the learner the opportunity to give a more detailed answer, and relate specific information to work related areas or events easier than would be available with written questioning. Written questioning is dependent on the learner have the necessary skills to write in detail, and understand the question, whereas oral questioning and answering, is more succinct, assuming the necessary skills are in place to understand the questions being asked of them.
Witness testimonies can be given quickly, at the time the event happened, giving a ‘first hand’ account of the work being completed. The main limitations of witness testimonies are they may not contain the relevant knowledge criteria that is required, and the person writing any witness statement may not understand the necessary method or information that is required of them to complete the testimonial documentation.
Examination of product evidence from a work environment allows a learner to provide the necessary evidence, and to explain what they did, and how they did it, to produce the piece of evidence in question. The main limitation with examination of product evidence is authenticity, as of, belonging to the learner in question.
Learner statements are a way for a learner to provide a commentary, usually written, that will link holistic pieces of evidence, to specific learning outcomes and assessment criteria. This is a good way to understand possible further assessment methods that may be used, but on its own without confirmation and authentication, it is not reliable at all. They would also with need completing immediately after the event, whilst fresh in any ‘train of thought’, and is dependent on remembering the actual event in enough detail to be effective in it’s entirety. It is also dependant on having the available time, to write the commentary for the specific events, as work constraints may mean this is it not possible.
Projects and/or assignments are another way that assessments can be carried out individually, or on a group basis. They can provide extensive information on the skills or knowledge that any learner may have and cater for different learning styles. The main limitations of projects and assignment-based assessments are that they do require some written and presentation skills to be possessed by the learner under assessment. They do not always offer the learner any ‘second chance’ in the event of missing deadlines for assignments, or failing to complete the project.
Formal or informal questioning is another way that assessments can be carried out. These are a good way of getting immediate feedback and an opportunity to explore individual skills in-depth. They also do not put any limitations of having reading or writing skills. They do however require a skilled assessor with the ability to have the necessary ‘performance’ style of asking the questions in the correct manner.
3.1 Summarise the key factors to consider when planning assessment.
The key factors that need to be considered when planning an assessment are what award regulations (both governmental and awarding body), and award body standards need to be taken into account.
The different types of assessment methods must also be considered, as some are different, depending on whether performance-based assessment of the skills, or knowledge-based assessment of understanding is required. Whatever type is selected must be fit-for-purpose, and consider the overall needs of the assessment criteria and context of the measures of achievement. Whatever type of assessment method is chosen for formative and summative assessment must also take into consideration any prior learning that has been identified.
Individual or group assessment is also a consideration, as well as what competencies and criteria are being assessed. The how and who of the assessment planning need to be considered, for the numbers involved, timescales, and availability of individuals.
When and where assessments are to be given consideration, as there may be staffing and resource constraints, as well as the practical limitations of where the assessment is to be carried out and when, and within what timescales. When, and how feedback will be given is also a consideration, as these are staffing and resource constrained as well.
When planning any assessment, any individual learner requirements need to be taken into account, with particular reference to any special additional support of the learner and learning identified. All assessment activities and the planning of these activities should follow the principles of being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART). Specific in the sense of activities should only relate to the ‘what’ is being assessed and clearly stated. Measurable in that the assessment is measured against specific criteria and objectives. Achievable in that the correct assessment has been set for the current skills of all parties. Relevant for consistency of results of assessment criteria and activities, and Time bound where target dates are set and agreed.
3.2 Evaluate the benefits of using a holistic approach to assessment.
Holistic mean ‘capturing the whole or wider situation’. Applied to assessment, it will mean that the assessment will incorporate as broad a range of natural performance activities or related assessment criteria as possible.
The benefits of using a holistic approach to assessment are that it allows any assessment to be planned for, with proven test models, and is a meaningful and more ‘natural’ activity of gaining the different aspects of learning, rather than using a perform ‘to the test’ scenario. It allows the learner to give any evidence for a significant number of identified criteria in a time efficient manner.
It is a cost-effective approach to assessment, and minimizes the number of visits to any work environment for assessment to take place, and is cost-effective from a time perspective as well with an assessment potentially covering a larger proportion of identified criteria.
By using naturally occurring workplace evidence, or vocationally relevant assessment as near ‘real life’ as possible, gives a level of motivation for the learner. It increases their involvement in the learning process, rather than the feeling of having to complete a number of exercises and activities to achieve qualification success.
3.3 Explain how to plan a holistic approach to assessment.
A holistic planned approach may begin with a task to be assessed in the normal course of work, and then it can be determined which assessment criteria this might cover and a number of learning outcomes. Assessments are done within the normal working patterns of the learner, in carrying out their normal work tasks. By doing this, it will be planned to cover as many learning outcomes and assessment criteria as possible, and the learner will need to assess the likely time that this is going to take.
By planning the holistic approach to gather as much evidence as possible, with the fewest number of visits, the learner does not feel overwhelmed or loose motivation in achieving their individual learning goal.
Within a holistic planned approach to assessment, streamlined processes will allow the optimisation of evidence capture during any assessment activity. It is reflecting a ‘real world’ for skills requirements, and takes into consideration specific context of learner needs requirements.
3.4 Summarise the types of risks that may be involved in assessment in own area of responsibility.
When conducting any assessments for individual learners over the age of 16 in a business administration environment, there are a number of risks that may be involved with assessment. They may be risks to the learners in that unnecessary stress has been placed on them in a busy work environment where they have to perform their own work, plus any work given by the assessor.
Any work produced may not be to a level of standard that is normally expected. Assessors may be stressed, and under pressure to get learners through qualifications in a timely manner, thereby not covering the assessment criteria to any level of detail that has been set out by the examination body.
Competency of any learner in the assessment process does run the risk of being an actual credible way of assessing in a work-based scenario, especially where observation is involved, as this may, as mentioned above, cause stress to the individual in that they might feel under pressure for a specific range of assessment situations set-up.
Health and Safety risks may not be in place in a business administration environment as there are compliance officers in place who would be checking that any requirements for assessment are risked assessed for compliance to Health and Safety standards. Any issues that are found would be taken away from a responsibility perspective, from the assessor, and dealt with by the compliance team. This however does raise organisational risks involved with there being appropriate opportunities for assessment e.g. work disruption or availability of staff to complete the assessment. These organisational risks must be managed in an acceptable timescale to support assessment deadlines in a timely manner for submission.
Due to the diverse nature of the workforce, any assessment does have the additional risk of being appropriate for the learner in terms of understanding and capability from an equality perspective. Data Protection risks will be in place as all documentation and material from a learner and assessor perspective must comply with the principles of the Data Protection Act (1998). Compliance officers are there to understand whether internal processes and procedures are being followed and adhered to, but the risk is placed upon us individually to comply with all aspects of current legislation.
Evidence authenticity is a risk that is minimised by having individual work-place email checks in place. Any ‘signed’ statements from third-parties can be checked for validity with additional processes that can be adopted. This minimises any risks.
3.5 Explain how to minimise risks through the planning process.
The planning process is a clear way of identifying and addressing specific requirements of assessment. It should always be learner based as this will identify the level of proficiency of the learner, individual skills, the learning style required, and whether they are actually ready to undertake the assessment in an appropriate way.
All learners should be treated as individuals and may work at different paces to each other. By planning a clear criterion for assessment, and the assessment methods to be undertaken, the correct and appropriate evidence can be obtained in a timely manner to support submission. This also mitigates the risk of making sure the correct assessment is planned for to support the correct evidence that needs to be gathered.
Clearly planning the end-to-end process of the assessment is critical, as this will involve giving feedback to the learner, and timely submission of assessment decisions. By careful planning, any risks are mitigated. The planning of any assessment activities should follow the principles of being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART).
Specific in the sense of activities should only relate to the ‘what’ is being assessed and clearly stated. Measurable in that the assessment is measured against specific criteria and objectives. Achievable in that the correct assessment has been set for the current skills of all parties. Relevant for consistency of results of assessment criteria and activities, and Time bound where target dates are set and agreed.
All these should be done under discussion with the learner and planned for, documented, and agreed with them. This ensures that the when, and how any assessment is planned, thereby minimising any risks from increased workloads to the learner. Any assessment planned must support, and ensure any health and safety risks have been identified and planned for. By clear discussions with the learner, unsafe environments and additional health and safety concerns can be planned for and mitigated for.
During any assessment, a duty of care must be in place to ensure that the correct governance and regulatory rules are followed. This is especially important when taking into account any safeguarding requirements that must be adhered to under law. These must be planned for including any confidentiality rules or sensitivities issues that may exist depending on where assessments have been planned.
4.1 Explain the importance of involving the learner and others in the assessment process.
At all stages of the assessment process, it is important that the learner is involved. At key stages of the process, others will be involved, as both the learner and others involvement, support the overall aims and objectives within the assessment process. Any initial assessment that is undertaken to support learning, must take into account previous experience and the needs of the individual learner to ensure firstly, they are on the right course of training, and secondly, any potential learning to be undertaken supports any goals that the learner may have. By discussing this criteria with the learner, and others, there is a greater understanding of what is to be achieved, by when, by whom and who is involved.
By understanding these all, there are no hidden surprises. The types of assessment methods can be discussed, as any organisational constraints can be identified and mitigated for with the learner’s involvement to best prepare for the type of assessment method that would be most suitable, e.g. Self-assessment, peer-assessment or observational assessment.
Assessment activities must be fit for purpose, with decisions and feedback taking into account any prior learning identified at initial assessment, and fit-for-purpose with any planning decisions and feedback being justifiable and safe. The aim of assessment is to track the progress and give constructive and informative feedback to learners. This helps improve a learner’s progress and inspires them to achieve.
By gathering and recording of evidence from assessment, it can be measured against agreed objectives and criteria. It allows any measurable data to be use to track learner, group and overall organizational performance against specific learning domains. This requires the learner to be involved at all steps and have input into process. Colleagues and employers may be involved, for example in differing assessment methods, e.g. Witness Statements. They might be involved to understand progress towards objectives within any learning and support the learner at all stages within assessment.