What is the Role of an Assessor?
An assessor is an individual who is an expert in their field and is responsible for measuring the learning of their learners. An assessor in the context of education and training ensures that the learner is eligible enough to meet the standard required to gain a particular qualification. Assessors make decisions on whether a learner is competent or not in a particular topic or subject. Various forms of assessment can help plan future learning and personalise L&D for a learner according to their particular needs.
What are the Points of Assessment?
As an assessor, you must decide the points of assessment throughout the course. Setting points of assessments helps in identifying learners who are competent and ones who would need extra assistance. It’s also necessary to plan in advance so that you can inform all necessary stakeholders including the learners.
Choosing types of assessments
Choosing between types of assessments, i.e formal or informal assessment completely depends on how comfortable you are conducting a mixture of both and your learner’s corporation. Formal assessments consist of traditional tests, work-based evidence, exams and assignments. On the other hand, informal assessments consist of quizzes, informal observation and Q&A, group work etc.
How to comply with Regulatory Guidelines in Assessments?
Complying with regulatory guidelines stated by your organisation and awarding bodies is necessary for the assessment and the entire course to be effective. Awarding bodies usually state the kind of assessments they want the assessors to conduct. For instance, some assessments must be conducted with peers and others to be done individually. The awarding bodies mention their requirements on their websites and course handbooks that the assessor must abide by. Adding more, as an assessor, direct or indirect discrimination in assessments must be avoided at all times. For instance, assuming that learners have the same linguistics expertise, race, lifestyle and demographics while planning assessments is a form of indirect discrimination. Your learners could have difficulty in attending the exam at a given time because of their health, religious festivals, prayer time or other factors.
How to design Content and Assessments?
Assessors and trainers usually have the freedom to design content and assessments. For instance, if you have learners with special needs in your class, tests and their format can be altered for students according to their needs. Adding resources and options such as multiple choice questions and structural changes makes it easier to assess learners who are unable to answer descriptively. Handouts, worksheets, practicals and observations are also methods that can be used separately and combined to perform procedures by noting and carrying out instructions.
Check out Holistic Assessment and Education for a detailed discussion on the topic.
Should assessments be pre-planned?
The strategies for assessments should be made clear when they’re being assigned one and they should be given a mock assessment or test for them to understand and familiarise themselves with the pattern. The assessment should be pre-planned and the students should be notified before it is held. More experienced and confident learners may perform better at assessments, but for the students with special learning needs, there should be reasonable adjustments to give them equal opportunity to achieve the same as their peers. The process of design, delivery, checking of assessments is usually in-house, done by the learning and development department or it may be done by a 3rd party (external assessors). For instance, exams conducted in the school premises are usually designed and checked by trainers who taught the learners. However, national standardised exams (GCSE) are designed, checked and assessed by external assessors.
How to measure the effectiveness of Assessments?
Effectiveness of assessments is related to the performance of learners, their skills and theoretical knowledge with active retention skills for concepts taught.
The assessments that are conducted internally can be altered as per the individual needs. This includes using VAK and self-assessment or peer assessment, meaning they can be marked by learners themselves or their peers as an exercise. It gives them an opportunity to check and correct their own and their peers' work depending upon the regulations of the organisation. However, the marking by the external body may differ as they’re not aware of the student’s individual needs and progress, thus there is no personalisation. The trainer has greater control over marking the students for internal assessment.
Is Standardisation of assessment important?
Standardisation of assessment between assessment and IQA teams is crucial. This standardisation ensures various things for example, the level of knowledge, duration and use of resources according to the needs of learners are similar between trainers and assessors.
Standardisation is used to ensure VACSR decision-making across the organisation to maintain fair assessment decisions. The internal and external requirement of assessment must also be met. One of the primary aims of standardisation is to ensure that decisions are consistent and reliable across the organisation.
The information for assessments should be communicated clearly when they’re being assigned and how they will be graded. In addition, learners should be told what the assessment usually contains or the format e.g. giving a mock assessment or test for them to understand and familiarise themselves with the pattern for externally set assessments. The assessment should be pre-planned and the students should be notified before it is held.
Why is record keeping important in Assessments?
Record keeping is done both for internal and external use.
Internal requirements of an organisation require assessors to conduct initial and diagnostic assessments as well as formative and summative assessments. These assessments confirm the learner's knowledge of the subject as well as serve as written evidence for recording purposes at various stages of the learning journey.
An assessor always values feedback from students regarding the assessment helps in improving the quality and methods of the assessment process. The results from this feedback can be used to record and analyse student attainment, review the progress over a period of time, allow opportunities for self-reflection etc
Records could also include altering assessment plans for students with learning difficulties and help in concluding the overall impact of the assessment on the individual hence, improving future assessment decisions.
How to review the effectiveness of own Assessment?
Reviewing the effectiveness of own assessment practices can be done through the individual but also team evaluation where all the trainers gather to reflect the effectiveness of their own planned assessment outcomes. The student achievements are one way to gauge the effectiveness of your own teaching practice. If the majority of your students perform well throughout the term means that you successfully delivered the subject knowledge correctly. Feedback of your assessment practice can be taken from students, other trainers, other professionals (SENCOs or additional tutors) and internal and external quality assurers. Through evaluation and feedback, various factors in the assessments are highlighted that need improvement or can be improved.
Importance of self-evaluation in Assessment
Furthermore, you, as an assessor should use self-evaluation to evaluate your timings, level of student participation or involvement, SWOT analysis based on assessment strategies, review of assessment outcomes, achievement of targets, annual review/SAR, observation of practice feedback.
CPD should always be included in your self-evaluation of the assessment process and your own practice. Consider the following points in relation to your assessment processes:
- Updating subject knowledge,
- Accessing awarding body training/website,
- Design/delivery of assessment schedules,
- Resource requirements,
- Updating assessment skills/qualifications,
- Work shadowing or peer observation.
- Industrial secondment.
With regards to your own improvement you should consider the following:
- Plan changes to assessment programme or delivery,
- Changes to assessment activities (timing, scheduling etc),
- Challenging students and learning styles,
- Motivating and targeting selected students.
There’s always room for improvement in assessment practice. To keep the students engaged and updated in terms of knowledge, updating your own subject knowledge is a must. You can update your knowledge through various resources that include assessing the awarding organisations and their website where they post how they’ve evolved teaching a subject that you specialise in. Updating assessment skills and qualifications along with your knowledge is necessary so that the students benefit from your improved practice. Reflecting back on your work and taking feedback from peers/employers would give you an opportunity to update the course content which is useful for the students as well. Also, getting industry experts onboard for preparing the assessments would help in updating the skill set of the students according to industrial needs.