How do I conduct successful assessments?
Such a common question that is asked in the VET sector. The scary fact is that for an RTO there are three things that must be in place for it to succeed in the long term. These are, firstly a great training product, secondly great marketing and thirdly accurate and effective compliance systems. Each of these all come together to keep an RTO moving forward steadily. However most would agree that the linchpin of them all is effective compliance and a big part, excuse me a huge part of that is the carrying out of effective assessments.
In this blog article I want to share with you 3 Power tips to Conduct assessments that get the best performance out of the candidate and the assessor. For new assessors and even veteran assessors there can often be so much to consider when executing assessments, things like, ‘Who is my candidate? What are their special needs? Is reasonable adjustment required? Where will it happen? Do I have all the equipment and resources I need? Do I have all the templates I need? Is the area set up properly, where do I need to sign? What comments do I need to write?’ and even ‘What do I do if the student needs to resubmit?’
There are so many thoughts that can go through the mind of an assessor prior to, during and post the assessment process. Ultimately though assessment is one of the most powerful indicators of the success of a training course. If training has been effective, then recall of skills and knowledge by students should ideally be effortless and seamless when it comes to the ol’ observation and practical tasks and the written tests that students might fill out. However, we all know in practice this is rarely the case.
So lets take a look at 3 Power tips to get even better performance out of the Candidate & the Assessor in the assessment process. The following model has been developed through thousands of hours of conducting assessments as well as training assessors in both VET and tertiary education. This model is fantastic for both setting the standard for the newbie and for keeping the veteran on tack.
So here is the RIG model.
R– The R in RIG model stands for ‘Remove ALL Assumptions’ this is such a powerful and important thing to do. Many people forget that training is training and assessment is assessment. We need to keep the two paradigms separate.
We can’t ever fall into the trap of saying –“Well I saw Johnny do the task 3 times in training, so even though he screwed it up in his assessment, that’s Ok”. We need to remember that whatever happened in training, needs to stay ‘in training’ and remove all prior assumptions that we might have about student’s performance. This is also the case for student’s prior knowledge. We must remove all assumptions before we start conducting the assessments. The most powerful questions an assessor can ask themselves before starting an assessment are-
- What don’t I know about this student?
- What haven’t I yet told this student?
- What am I assuming they know about the assessment process?
- Am I assuming that they will bring their necessary items?
- What am I assuming in terms of physical capabilities?
- What am I assuming about their LLN capabilities?
When we get into the habit of asking ‘assumption removing questions’ we end up with a very powerful clean slate that we can then work with to start of our assessment planning process and assessment preparation.
I-The ‘I’ in RIG stands for ‘Investigate Fully’. Now this may seem like a fairly obvious one yet what we often forget is that there is direct correlation between the level of ‘Comfort’ a candidate may feel and raw and accurate performance that they may show their assessor. If they do not feel comfortable, or do not have absolute clarity around what is required of them and how to best answer the questions presented to the assessor, occasionally a candidate can present ‘inauthentic’ performance or give false indicators.
What we need to ask ourselves at all times is ‘Is this true and accurate performance?’ And if we have any doubts at all, we need to ‘Investigate Fully’ Ask for that extra piece of evidence, ask for the candidate to repeat the action, ask for the candidate to re-answer the question. Do whatever it might take until you as the assessor are 100% confident that what you are seeing in front of your eyes or seeing on paper is the best that the candidate can give you. We must coach and train all new assessors to get into the powerful habit of asking for ‘just a little bit more’ clarity.
G– The ‘G’ in the RIG model stands for ‘Give Quality Feedback’. Now notice how it reads ‘QUALITY’ feedback? Not just ‘Feedback’. We need to appreciate that as a student one of the biggest burning desires that students have after assessment performance is the WHY! If a student has been deemed Competent or Not Yet Competent, they ultimately want two things- Validation for their efforts and more so, WHY did they receive that mark? In the industry one of the most common catchphrases is “Good job, well done.” Or “Sound knowledge demonstrated”. Now this is ok for the assessor that has to rush through as he/she has 30 assessments to mark in a day, however for the student themselves it can often leave them a bit disheartened and disempowered for future performance.
So let’s take a look at what good ‘Quality Feedback’ looks like.
Competent- “ Good Job well done because you ……….(greeted the customer politely, took their order and the customer was left with a favourable impression of the café) “ The key word in the entire example just there is ‘Because’, the more we actively we insert a reason, the more powerful the feedback.
Not Yet Competent example-“Unfortunately your answer is not yet satisfactory as your answer didn’t meet the criteria of validity, please go ahead and re answer it with the correct answer.”
Now as you read this you might be shocked to see any usage of the ‘Rules of Evidence’ in the feedback provided to candidates. However, I have found overtime the more you can get students used to hearing and using the rules of evidence criteria for their assessments the clearer the process is and also the less assessment decision appeals an RTO receives. Ultimately all assessors are marking against validity, authenticity, currency and sufficiency, so the more assessors get used to using the terms within the process and with their candidates the more transparency can happen.
So remember if you want to create and conduct powerful assessments, keep reminding yourself and others that it all needs to be RIG’ ed. Remove all assumptions, Investigate Fully and Give Quality Feedback that truly empowers the candidates for their future.
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Author Marc Miles
Lead Trainer and Assessor.