Rules of Evidence

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Just like there are many Assessment Strategies and Methods, there are many types of evidence.

From the IBSA VET Glossary we learn that evidence can be defined as:

“information gathered to support a judgement of competence against the specifications of the relevant unit/s of competency.”

Evidence can take many forms and be gathered from a number of sources. Assessors often categorise evidence in different ways for example:

* direct, indirect and supplementary sources of evidence, or a combination of these
* evidence collected by the candidate or evidence collected by the assessor
* historical and recent evidence collected by the candidate and current evidence collected by the assessor.”

As indicated in the first dot point above, a simple way to classify evidence is to use three types:

  • Direct Evidence – things that we, as assessor, observes first-hand, eg, observation, work samples
  • Indirect Evidence – things that someone else has observed and reported to us, eg, third party reports
  • Supplementary Evidence – other things that can indicate performance, such as training records, questions, written work, portfolios


If these seem familiar, it is because we have touched on them before.  This is because it is one of the global concepts that underpins the whole TAE10 qualification.

Rules of Evidence

It is not good enough to just collect any evidence. Just as the way we collect evidence is guided by the principles of assessment, the way we collect evidence is guided by the rules of evidence.

RuleEvidence must...
Valid- Address the elements and performance criteria
- Reflect the skills, knowledge and context described in the competency standard
- Demonstrate the skills and knowledge are applied in real or simulated workplace situations
Current- Demonstrate the candidate's current skills and knowledge
- Comply with current standards
Sufficient- Demonstrate competence over a period of time
- Demonstrate competence that is able to be repeated
- Comply with language, literacy and numeracy levels which match
- those required by the work task (not beyond)
Authentic- Be the work of the candidate
- Be able to be verified as genuine

To better understand how these rules affect the way that we assess, let’s have a look at each one in more detail.


The assessor is assured that the learner has the skills, knowledge and attributes as described in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements. For example, the evidence will not be valid if you instruct a candidate to solve printer problems by simply asking: Type a standard office memo on a word processor. Validity is assured when the performance required matches the performance described in a competency standard.


The assessor is assured that the assessment evidence demonstrates current competency. This requires the assessment evidence to be from the present or the very recent past.

Currency means evidence needs to be checked to ensure it shows recent performance.


The assessor is assured that the quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence enables a judgement to be made of a learner’s competency.

A judgement has to be made concerning how much evidence to call for. How much is required for the assessor to accept the performance as competent? Too little evidence risks the assessment not being reliable; too much leads to waste of time and effort.

Tell your candidates that the evidence they present for RPL or RCC should be organised and presented in a format that makes it easy for the assessor to make a judgement of competence.


The assessor is assured that the evidence presented for assessment is the learner’s own work.

Authenticity means evidence needs to be checked to ensure it actually relates to the performance of the person being assessed, and not that of another person. Checking for authenticity is important when some supplementary sources of evidence are used in assessment.

Supplying the Evidence

It is very easy to get too much evidence. It is also very easy to get too much evidence that doesn’t really help us to make good decisions. Because of this, it is in everyone’s interests to guide our candidates through the selection, organisation and submission of evidence.

The first thing we need to do, however, is work out what makes quality evidence. The answer to this is quite simple. It is evidence that lets us make decisions about whether someone can do what it is that they are meant to be able to do, ie, it will help us to recognise competency.

Specifically, quality evidence addresses the rules of evidence as described above and:

  • reflects the skills, knowledge and attributes defined in the relevant unit of competency
  • shows application of the skills in the context described in the range statement in the unit of competency
  • demonstrates competence over a period of time
  • demonstrates repeatable competence
  • is the work of the candidate
  • can be verified
  • demonstrates the candidate’s current skills and knowledge
  • does not require language, literacy and numeracy levels beyond those needed for the performance of the competency.

In this respect, we need to ensure that our evidence and the way it is collected meets the VET Policies & Frameworks that influence our work, eg, Disability Discrimination Act, Racial Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act.

The Portfolio Approach

Just as one size does not fit all with learning styles, neither will a single assessment method always provide the evidence that we need to make a decision about performance across all elements within a competency standard, or across several units of competency.

For this reason, it is common to prepare a range of types of evidence. This is called a portfolio. While we will need to target the contents of each portfolio to the specific context and purpose of the assessment, each will usually include the following:

  • contact details
  • a declaration that the evidence is the candidate’s own work
  • experience gained (work-based experiences)
  • units claimed
  • unit applications (including self-assessment form, cover page for evidence, assessor report form).

Integration & Co-Assessing

We do not know everything. Nor are we expected to. This means that if we are going to be collecting quality evidence, we are often better off to involve other people in the assessment event. These might be people who have a better understanding of the work-based knowledge and skills that we are seeking to recognise in our assessment. People who work closer to the “coal-face” are often able to help us see opportunities to assess several competencies in an integrated way.

Commonly, the people who will know the job the best are:

  • the candidate themselves
  • supervisors and managers
  • technical and industry specialists
  • other assessors with experience in the area

From our conversations with these people, we might identify opportunities to better integrate the assessment activities. Doing this is a good idea, and for a number of reasons:

  • it gets rid of repetition across assessment activities
  • it tailors assessment so that it is more like what really happens at work
  • it saves everyone’s time

Let’s look at an example.

Jamie is training to be a florist. Among the units that he is studying is Create floristry designs using hand tied techniques, an excerpt of which is shown here:


If we wanted to assess the individual performance criteria, then we might use the following assessment methods:

  1. observation of Jamie creating a hand-tied arrangement
  2. observation of Jamie following the specifications provided by a customer
  3. a short written quiz that assesses Jamie’s underpinning knowledge

Now, that is three things to do. Another way would be to undertake a single observation that looks at:

  • Jamie consulting customer over arrangement specifications
  • Jamie accurately recording customer details
  • Jamie following the specifications that the customer requested
  • Jamie creating the hand-tied arrangement

The first thing that many people say about this is that the second way will take longer. That is true. But, it is a part of Jamie’s normal work activities, and does not require that he be taken away from work. This saves him time, and his employer money. Not only that, but it is a real example of direct evidence being collected in an authentic environment.

This type of assessment is also known as holistic assessment.

With this in mind, we can start to think about an evidence plan.

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