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LEARNING ASSESSMENTS

 

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Learning need to be assessed on a continuous basis.  Assessments help not only to the learner's progress, but it also helps motivate Learners to complete their Learning Modules (LMs).  As endorsed by the National Labour Organization and according to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), the following 4 points form the core of Assessment:

  1. Validity: only the valid skills must to be assessed
  2. Reliability: the results need to be consistent when various
  3. Flexibility: time, duration, participants, location, accommodate special requirements, does not mean lowering the acceptable pass rate or level
  4. Fairness:  equality, transparent, agreement, explain the process and role definitions prior to assessment, right to appeal

1) What need to be assessed?

In most cases, it is about competency! For example, you can learn the theory to drive a car, the road signs, laws, rules and symbols, but does that mean that one is a capable driver?....No, but the theory is valuable and required. Only by demonstrating, proves that one is a competent driver. Someone once said:
"Don't Debate....DEMONSTRATE!!", another said: Talk is Cheap . This way, by demonstration, it is applied theory, shows the learner actually understood the concept and applies it in a new scenario.
Once someone demonstrates what was learned, that is assessable on quantitative and qualitative levels.

Sure, there are many things that can not be demonstrated, like real life emergency cases. Or when one needs to shut a plant down to be assessed being a competent plant operator, when it is too expensive or hazardous or when someone can get hurt, then another approach need to be taken. Perhaps a simulation? It is like learning to fly a passenger jet, first the pilot spend 100s of hours in a simulator before he sits in the cockpit.

2) Setting the standard?

Ask yourself: What is required for this learner to know and do, to do his/her job well and to be competent?

There must be an acceptable level that needs to be achieved. It will be different in most cases, but once the (pass) level has been set, it should be maintained. One can not let someone pass by dropping the pass level. Should someone fail to pass, it should rather be seen as a wonderful opportunity to excel, knowing a weakness allow one to learn and improve. It is not a shame.

3) How to?

Assessments must be fair; the process must be clearly understood and explained. If there is no equality and consistency in the assessment of, say 10 people, there sure will be a great deal of unhappiness. Always avoid favouritism or victimizing someone during an assessment. Without fairness and transparency, the assessment process and assessors will not gain credibility and will cause ambiguity.

Assessments should also be a 2-way street. Feedback is required for both the learner and the assessor, to be able to continuously improve yourself and the learning system. My personal experience, sure you will agree, was that I learned a lot more by making mistakes, or being wrong. When one then realizes a mistake, face it and change it; then it is about self-conscious learning, the best learning experience one can make.

The outcome of the assessment must also be clear and there must be measurable Plan Of Action (POA), should the learner not reach the minimum level or should the learning system be changed. A learning system is a living system; things change .conditions, technology, safety levels, scrap levels etc. Learning material and systems need to be updated, that is why feedback from the learner is so important, else the wrong learning material will make the whole organization learn something that is wrong.

4) Rapport?

Assessments should be a positive event, linked with a celebration, either way pass or fail. The assessor must make a great effort to gain the learner s trust and respect. Treat each other with dignity. Once this level of comfort was reached, the learner will be assured that he/she is not going to be penalized for not knowing better. Even during the assessment, select an appropriate place, sit next to each other, not seating opposite a table, and will help develop a sense of team building.

5) Who should partake in the assessment?


At least 2 people should be there, the learner, the assessor and the observer. The 3 different role definitions should also be clearly explained before an assessment. The assessor should be a technical or field expert and needed to be certified competent on the technical level. Prior to the assessment, the assessor should also be certified as a competent assessor.
The observer is there to observe, see that the assessment take place according to the policy set. Like a moderator.

6) When should an assessment take place?

Learning should be paced, or self paced if the learner is mature and self motivated. All participants should agree upon assessment date, time and location. The learner, should be reviewed on a continuous and frequent basis, to gain confidence and prepare for the assessment. At the end, the assessment is not a test, by merle a case of doing his/her job as it would be done on any other day.

7) Acknowledgement.

Acknowledge the learner is competent be issuing a certificate or diploma of achievement. Present it to the successful candidates, so all can see and celebrate together. This is most rewarding, gaining respect amongst your fellow workers. Link the achievement with an incentive. In most cases, plan to be re-assessed offer a period of time, as we all do forget things sometime.

 


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