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Outcomes-based Assessment Process Flow

Completion requirements

It is essential to understand the flow process of outcomes-based assessment:

Lecturer Broadcast: Click here to view an explanation about the moderation process flow.

Communicating Assessment Plans with Stakeholders (People)

The 2 parties who will be most actively involved in the assessment are the Assessor and the Learner. There is, however, numerous other people involved in the lead-up to the learner’s assessment, and it is important to take each role-player’s time and roll into consideration to assist in a “smooth sailing” assessment.

Assessment should be planned with all the parties involved. This will ensure that the facilitator gives the learner the required education to be able to reflect in assessment and will prevent unnecessary explanations to parties who feel aggrieved with the learner taking the time to be assessed (this is often a complaint from the workplace).

Drafting a Schedule for the Implementation of Your Assessment Plan

Assessments are usually organised on an assessment schedule which is communicated to the learner early on in the learning programme. These schedules usually focus on an exact date, time and venue of assessment that is to take place for a specific programme. Planning via schedules assist everyone involved in the assessment process to co-ordinate their time and plan their individual parts in the assessment.

Booking a Venue

Booking assessment venues and ensuring that they are safe and conducive to the implementation of the principles of good assessment.

Planning in terms of the venue where assessment is to take place is a critical factor in the success or failure of assessment. The venue should be suitable for the type of assessment that is to take place, i.e. if the learner has to be observed in the workplace, the venue of assessment will be the workplace of the learner, while a written knowledge questionnaire can take place in a formal classroom situation with multiple learners.

Choosing the Most Appropriate Assessment Tools

The choice of assessment instruments will depend on the situation and might incorporate a range of instruments. Ensuring that you have thoroughly planned which instruments have to be used will ensure that the correct instrument is at hand on the day of assessment and that all the evidence is gathered there and then.

Assessment procedures should address the barriers to learning to make competence accessible to the learner. As not all learners experience the same barriers or need the same level of support, assessment modification becomes a very individual process. Its aim is to assist the learner to demonstrate the same outcome as other learners by changing the task to accommodate the learner's barrier to learning, without changing the core of the outcome. Modification is therefore geared towards the particular learner and not towards the type of disability.

Different types of barriers will have to be addressed through different alternative and/or adaptive methods of assessment. A specific barrier might require more than one adaptation. Strategies to be applied will vary according to whether the barrier is long-standing, recently acquired, fluctuating, intermittent or temporary.

The learning site where the assessment is conducted is responsible for the:

  • Audio-tape - the material should be audio-taped well in advance.
  • Enlargement of print of assessment paper.
  • Transcribing of the assessment task into Braille (or appointment of someone to do so).
  • Supply of assistive devices, special equipment, etc.

The learner should know:

  • The kinds of activities that they can be expected to perform.
  • The standard and level of performance expected.
  • The type and amount of evidence to be collected.
  • Their responsibility regarding the collection of evidence.

Record Keeping and Formal Administration

Remember that at the end of any assessment you as the assessor should have evidence that could hold up in a court of law to back up the reasons for your competence judgement of the candidate that you have assessed. Additionally, you should be able to prove that you have adhered to all the principles of good assessment.

This naturally requires meticulous recordkeeping and very precise formal administration systems.

It has given rise to the perception that assessment can be divided into two clear parts: The active assessment and the “paperwork”!

The administrative compliance framework tends to be a confluence of the SETA formats generally prescribed and a trademark of the person who develops the assessment instrument. But, remember that the point of the “paperwork” is to keep record of the evidence and the process of your assessment.

Assessment Planning in Line with QMS and Organisational Policies

All assessment instruments should be designed bearing specific policies and procedures in mind, such as:

  • SAQA policies and procedures – available on their website:
  • SETA policies – available from the ETQA of each SETA or on the SETA’s website.
  • The service provider’s in-house quality management system policies and procedures related to Program Design, Assessment design, RPL, Assessment Practice, Learner Health and Safety, Learner support, Benchmarks for Competence, Protocols for communication and recordkeeping.
  • Employer/Sectoral policies and procedures – related to benchmarks and standards for the specific employer or sector in which assessment takes place.

Each organisation will have a specific Assessment Policy which the assessor must use as guideline in terms of conduct and assessment process. This policy will stipulate such things as:

  • Assessor conduct during assessment
  • Benchmark for competence
  • Number of allowed assessments per learner
  • Appeals procedures against the outcome of assessment
  • Re-assessment strategies
  • RPL strategies

Existing Assessment Guides and Instruments

Many organisations and SETA’s have pre-designed Assessment Guides and Assessment Instruments. Assessment Guides give guidance to the assessor in terms of compliance documentation, pre-set assessment plans and marking matrixes against assessment instruments.

It is important that as assessor, you work through such guides and instruments well in advance of the actual assessment to assist you in completing the assessment correctly and to ensure that you have verified the completeness of the instruments in terms of evidence collection and that you have judged the instruments against the principles of good assessment.

Preparing Assessment Resources

The aim of the assessment is gathering of evidence in a specific format and in a specific way. It is thus important to consider ahead of time what the assessor, the learner and any other role-players in the assessment need to complete the assessment and that all these resources are on hand during the assessment.

Preparing Assessment Resources to Ensure Fairness

To prevent any unfair situation, the assessor should ensure that all assessment instruments, stationary, venues, role-players, etc. are planned and organised. This will avoid a situation where the learner can feel disgruntled due to a disorganised process or an incorrect venue. Ensuring that the learner is aware of exactly what will be expected from him/her on the day of assessment and that the learner has agreed to the time and venue for assessment will assist the learner’s buy-in to the process.

Some learners will need support on various levels and at various stages of the learning program in order to maximise their potential. Support should be seen as an integral part of all learning.

There are many practical ways in which educators can adapt the way in which activities and assessment are planned, structured and conducted, e.g.:

  • Learners should be given sufficient time to demonstrate competency in the assessment tasks. Learners can be given more time, not only to write tests but also to demonstrate outcomes through all other methods of assessment. Multiple opportunities also need to be provided to improve work and to achieve optimally.
  • Learners can have the papers'/tasks' instructions read to them and they can dictate their answer to an educator/learner/other person who writes it down to be marked. Learners can also dictate their answers on a cassette. This can assist learners with reading and writing barriers, severe visual barriers and those with physical barriers that affect their hand movements.
  • Assessment can include a practical component so that learners can demonstrate their competence without having to use language. This is a more suitable assessment of learner’s competence if they have language problems. Remember that OBE acknowledges outcomes in skills, values, attitudes in addition to knowledge.
  • Develop an activity or task to substitute the task being done by the rest of the class, e.g. a learner with physical disability in an Arts and Culture or Life Orientation activity to demonstrate a specific outcome.
  • Design activities which can allow learners to demonstrate a level of competence and to achieve an outcome.

The purpose of alternative or adaptive methods of assessment is therefore to minimise the impact of a range of intrinsic and extrinsic barriers upon the assessment performance of the learner. The provision of alternative assessment is simply to accommodate the functional differences of some learners. The aim is:

To achieve the balance between meeting individual needs while maintaining assessment validity – i.e. to address the barrier, not to compensate for it. This is an essential part of providing learning support.

To avoid implying/establishing/confirming/reinforcing difference, i.e. in an exclusive frame to allow the results of the assessment to reliably reveal the needs of some learners to be supported in the teaching and learning process. This will assist educators to plan intervention strategies in such a way that all barriers are effectively addressed.

Preparing Assessment Resources to Ensure Safety

Safety of the learner is of utmost importance during assessment, especially where assessment might expose the learner to injury or exposure. Most organisations build in an Occupation Health & Safety compliance clause into their assessment policies and would expect the assessor to respond should injury or accidents occur during assessment. It is always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit with you as assessor if there is even the slightest risk of injury or exposure.

Notifying All Parties

The importance of notifying all parties involved in the assessment in good time about the assessment plan and assessment schedule.

There are many different role players in the outcomes-based learning arena. As the skills development process becomes more established and is rolled out to a larger audience, more role-players and stakeholders enter the arena. It now becomes very important that everybody fulfils their function with the same understanding of the process.

It is also very important to understand what each person’s duties and responsibilities are in terms of the process.

It is important to note that sometimes more than one role is fulfilled by one person. For example: a material developer might also fulfil the role of assessor or moderator, or the programme developer might also fulfil the role of facilitator. But, it is important to remember that in order to have high integrity in the process of quality assurance that it is preferable for different people to follow on in the different roles and responsibilities in the chain of delivery.

In order to understand the design of the assessment instruments, it is important to approach the process holistically. One must understand where assessment fits into the process, the frameworks and conventions of the assessment process and when to apply which format. One has to pay special attention in order to avoid pitfalls and to ensure that the intent of the assessment is communicated clearly to those who have to use it. Lastly one has to ensure that the assessment instrument is reliable and fair, and actually measures what it is supposed to measure – the outcomes of the unit standard in question.

Ensuring that all Parties are Ready for Assessment

It is recommended that the assessor has recorded agreement from all parties involved with the assessment that assessment will take place on an agreed date, at an agreed time and venue and that those role-players’ whose presence are required, will be present and aware of their function at the assessment.

Explain and Clarify Assessment Goals

Unlike with other assessment methods, Outcomes-based assessment involves the learner in the process and does not try to “catch the learner out”. Although the learner need not be handed an exact copy of the assessment which he/she will have to complete in preparation, the learner can be prepared by telling the learner:

  • What assessment instruments will be used (e.g. “you have to be observed in the workplace”)
  • Giving the learner a guideline of the evidence that he/she has to produce during assessment. Self-assessment checklists come in very handy here…

Example: Script for learners

Please prepare yourself according to the following self-assessment for summative assessment and indicate where you need assistance from the assessor.

Clarifying Everyone’s Expectations

If the learner understands what he/she expects from the assessment and what the assessor expects in return, no unrealistic or unfair circumstances are created. The assessor can ask the learner to describe to him/her:

  • Why do you want to be assessed in this?
  • What do you want to achieve by this assessment?
  • What do you want to happen when this assessment is complete?