Provide advanced assessment practice

Use a range of assessment methods

Broadening your skills takes practice. If you were to assess written tests day after day, without the opportunity to develop your observational skills, there is little doubt that this would have a detrimental effect on your professional assessment practice. Using a variety of assessment methods is not only more interesting, but it is the best practice for a professional assessor.

According to Bloom’s classification of learning outcomes (Bloom 1956), no single form of assessment can capture all the evidence of a unit (or set of units) of vocational competency.

We now look at how each of the many different assessment methods might be used to meet some basic VET competency standards.

Observation: the performance of skills can most simply be assessed through observation. A checklist is used to ensure that the standards of the unit of competency are measureable against what the assessor sees.

Portfolios: a range of observations, activities and knowledge-based evaluations can be gathered over time using this common method. Units of competency, which cover a range of contexts or a large number of specific requirements, may be assessed best using this method.

Practical and theoretical tests: where skills and knowledge need to be demonstrated in real-world or time-sensitive scenarios, this method can capture the individual performance criteria of a unit of competency as well as successfully cover elements of the required skills and knowledge.

Product development review: evaluation of a completed product is a useful tool for demonstrating the critical aspects of evidence of units of competency in many fields, such as carpentry, mechanical fitting and fabrication, bakery.

Simulations such as:

· Hypotheticals—used in knowledge-based services such as customer service, project management and nursing. This method can be used to retrieve specific skills and knowledge in a controlled assessment environment.

· Problem-based exercises—an excellent tool for establishing the candidate’s contingency management skills, this method can be used in conjunction with other methods across the full gamut of accredited and non-accredited training packages.

· Simulated—’real world’ scenarios are useful when assessing intensive decision-making skills. While this lends its use to higher AQF levels, it is still an interesting method for assessing aspects of the technical trades and service industries.

· Structured oral or written questioning techniques—such as invitation, exploration, confirmation, investigation and reflection, are interesting and useful methods for establishing depth of knowledge and are therefore excellent tools for higher AQF level assessments (Certificate III and above).

· Structured activities such as role-plays, presentations, completion of assessment activity sheets—these methods lend themselves to AQF levels 1–4 where skills can be demonstrated in creative and structured scenarios. To meet the unit requirements, these activities need specific deliverables such as particular elements, performance criteria or required skills.

Hill, Hill & Perlitz (2013) Professional Training and Assessment, McGraw-Hill Education (Australia) Pty Ltd