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Methods of Outcomes-based Assessment

Completion requirements


Definition: The method of assessment is suited to the outcome being assessed, i.e. is capable of gathering evidence in relation to the intended outcome, and not something else.

It is vital that the evidence which are obtained:

  • Meet what it says it does – nothing more and nothing less.
  • Relate to the outcome.
  • Do not try to “trick” the learner.

Example: If you wish to judge a learner’s ability to make a cup of coffee, you are not going to ask the learner to make a milkshake and you are not going to ask the learner to name all the coffees of the world. Making a milkshake is not making a cup of coffee! Knowledge of the coffees of the world does not mean you can make a cup of coffee!

The Impact of Appropriateness on Assessment

Ensuring that the assessment is appropriate will keep you as assessor focused to assess what has to be assessed and ensures that the learner understands what is expected from him/her.

It also avoids future scenarios of blame that the wrong outcome was assessed or that the method followed was inappropriate, leading to disputes.


The method of assessment does not present any barriers to achievements, which are not related to the achievement of the outcome at hand.

Definition: Fairness is absolutely essential to assessment. This is where Outcomes-based assessment differs vastly from other methods of assessment.

You can assure fairness in your assessments by:

  • Assessing what is required to assess.
  • Not trying to “trick” the learner.
  • Not showing prejudice or bias to certain learners.

Example: Using the example of assessing a learner’s ability to make a cup of coffee again:

It would be UNFAIR to expect a learner to make a cup of coffee by telling you how to do it rather than showing you how to do it.

It would be UNFAIR to expect the learner to make a cup of coffee without water, a kettle, spoons, a mug, coffee, sugar and milk.

It would be UNFAIR one learner’s cup of coffee better than another if both learners followed the exact same method.

It would be UNFAIR to judge a learner’s cup of coffee based on how much sugar the learner added if you didn’t give specific instruction to the method that has to be followed.

It would be UNFAIR to judge one learner’s cup of coffee unworthy because you dislike the learner.

It is also UNFAIR to assess a learner that is not prepared for assessment or does not wish to be assessed.

It is also UNFAIR to assess a learner in anything for which the learner has received no learning.

You cannot judge a learner in anything that you are not considered a Subject Matter Expert. It would be impossible for you to, for example, judge a doctor’s ability to perform open heart surgery if you are not a trained surgeon in this field yourself.

The Impact of Fairness on Assessment

Ensuring that your assessments are fair assists you in avoiding disputes with the learners and avoids repetition of assessment.

Planning for fairness makes the assessor plan for all the equipment and methods that have to be used, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Lecturer Broadcast: Click here to view an explanation on why fairness is essential when assessing.


Definition: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.

Manageability is often one of the most difficult challenges in assessment. Some guidelines in terms of making your assessments more manageable:

  • Arrange with facilitators and workplace mentors/coaches to gather evidence during facilitation and in the workplace – classroom activities often produce quite a bit of evidence; workplace evidence constitutes such evidence as logbooks of the learner’s shifts and testimonials from the workplace stating that the learner has completed specific tasks under supervision to a specified standard.
  • Arrange for assessments that are outside of the facilitation time – if further evidence needs to be gathered, it is important to not interfere with the learner’s learning, it is highly disruptive to pull individuals out of a learning environment to be assessed and places added pressure on the learner to catch up what has been missed in terms of learning.
  • Arrange for assessment of more than one learner per assessment day to save cost on travelling and save time for yourself.
  • Utilise the learner’s peers to judge his/her competence – you can often gather how efficient a learner is at specific tasks by asking his/her co-learners or co-workers to judge him/her (this is called a 360º rating which we will discuss more later on).
  • During re-assessments, focus on the areas in which the learner is Not Yet Competent – do not repeat the whole assessment it isn’t necessary.
  • Where possible, utilise pro-forma documentation and evidence collection guides – this ensures that all the required documents are filled out, completed and kept together.
Manageability Impacts Assessment as Follows

It saves cost when the assessor doesn’t have to make a special trip for any reason.

It avoids disruption in the learning environment and in the workplace.

It avoids searching for evidence when all the documents and evidence are kept in one place.

It clarifies what has to be assessed and when.


Definition: Evidence collection is integrated into the work or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible. (Often referred to as naturally occurring evidence.)

Integration will save time and money, but takes some skill, thought, and creativity.

Example: Some examples of integration in assessment include (using the coffee making example again):

  • Observing a learner in the workplace while he/she makes a cup of coffee.
  • Asking a learner to verbalise what he/she is doing while making the cup of coffee – thus testing the skill of coffee making as well as the skill of communication.

Integration Impacts Assessment in the Following Ways
  • Saves time and money when evidence is collected as it occurs in the workplace or classroom.
  • Saves time and money in terms of assessment when more than one outcome are assessed simultaneously.
  • Avoids repetitive assessments.
  • Forces the assessor to make the assessment topical to the learner’s life and work environment.

Integrated Assessment Refers to
  • Assessing a number of outcomes together.
  • Assessing a number of assessment criteria together.
  • Assessing a number of unit standards together.
  • Using a combination of assessment methods for an outcome(s).
  • Collecting naturally occurring evidence such as in the workplace.
  • Acquiring evidence from other sources such as supervisor reports, testimonials, etc.

The list above is part of common good education practice. SAQA recommends integrated assessment as a method to keep the bigger picture in mind and to avoid reducing learning and assessment to unconnected items to be learned and ticked off.

SAQA Recommends Integration at 2 Levels
  • At the level of assessing before awarding a qualification.
  • At the level of assessing a cluster of specific and critical outcomes or unit standards or parts of unit standards.

Integrated assessment at qualification level is required by SAQA to ensure that learners are able to combine all the skills, knowledge, values, and understanding they have required and demonstrate applied competence in contexts related to the purpose of the qualification.

Knowledge and skills are not discrete and assessment practices should reinforce the integrated nature of knowledge within and across unit standards, modules, courses, subjects, fields and learning areas. It is for this reason that programme designers, practitioners, and assessors are encouraged to cluster outcomes and unit standards to deepen and enrich the learning experience and integrate the assessment into meaningful learning activities. A single complex and multi-faceted task may assess most of multiple unit standards, and if some of the outcomes are not covered, short means of assessment can be designed only around these.