There’s probably no surprise that sooner or later someone would bring up assessment as a challenge in VET.
Audit results show it as a number one issue, anecdotal evidence shows it as a number one issue, and the number of forums, webinars and other PD offerings available and dedicated to explaining assessment-related concepts, show it as a number one issue.
Why is this the case? A number of reasons, I’m sure. However, I’m not entirely sure that I agree assessment per se is the issue.
I would say it’s the construction of materials appropriate to accompany the act of assessment that is problematic.
I would say that it’s the interpretation of the compliance information to govern the development of materials appropriate to accompany the act of assessment that is problematic.
I would say that it’s the application of information interpreted from the compliance information to govern the development of materials appropriate to accompany the act of assessment that is problematic.
And I would say that expecting an awesome assessor to also be an awesome assessment writer, is problematic.
Over the years, the recruitment rounds and the many requests for rectification help, I would say that one of the biggest issues the VET sector has is the expectations associated with assessment.
Assessment is a process – and requires a particular person with a specific skill set to carry this out.
Assessment is also known as a set of tools – and requires a particular person with a specific skill set to develop these tools.
The expectation of VET – whether it’s driven by financial position, level of resourcing, tradition, or something else – that assessors are to design and develop assessment tools to use in the assessment process, is, in my opinion, shoving people into boxes for which they are not necessarily suited.
Without doubt, the tools for use during the assessment process must be of a certain calibre, otherwise we run the risk of having ill-prepared and inadequately qualified people educating our children, cutting our hair, building our infrastructure, servicing our cars and caring for our elderly…. (You get the drift).
The terrible trouble that I think is plaguing our sector is that we seem to be expecting one professional (trainer/assessor) to be an expert in a totally different profession (instructional design), and are not recognising the specific skill set involved in writing, let alone writing assessments.
I believe it is unfair and short-sighted of the powers-that-be in our sector to marry the TAEASS502 unit with an entry-level trainer/assessor credential. The Certificate IV in Training and Assessment should focus on delivery of learning and assessment of that learning without expecting holders of the credential to be expert in the design and development of assessment tools. In fact, I would argue that the TAEASS502 does not guarantee expert assessment developers either… It is a very specific skill set to develop assessment that meets unit requirements. And it is a very specific skill set that focuses on providing the tools required to allow our awesome trainers and assessors to continue being awesome at what they are awesome at, and presumably, have been employed to do; train and assess others in the vocational area in which they have expertise.
Although only one aspect of the challenge that is ‘assessment’, I believe that a commitment to providing professional tools for use by professional tradespeople (trainers/assessors) can only do our sector the world of good – and reduce the number of challenges by one.
(25 November 2019)
What do you think?
Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.
About the Author:
Michelle Charlton is the Principal of VET PD Group. Michelle currently works with her team to offer specialised VET and RTO services, through resource development, validation services, and VET professional development opportunities.
About this series
There are many challenges facing VET. One of them is the need for the industry’s own voice to be shared in a way that adds more light than heat.
This article is one in a series that will seek to explore some of those challenges. The full series is available from HERE.
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