1.1 Assessment is about judging if, how and what level of learning has taken place. An assessor's function is to decide if a learner has developed skills, knowledge, understanding and competence in a particular field as well as if the learner is showing the attitude required for the application of the learning within that field. Assessing is not the same as evaluating. Rather than the focus being on the programme or course the learner is on (evaluation), the focus is instead on the learner and their development.
Assessors need to determine a learner's knowledge and performance against a set of pre-defined criteria. These criteria may be set up to assess learning for an eventual formal qualification in a particular topic or job role. Qualifications can be knowledge based, requiring the assessment of understanding, or they can be performance based allowing a learner to acquire and produce evidence on their ability to practically apply their skills. Learners can also be assessed on the basis of their work based competence, to achieve a formal qualification, to match an individual organisation's standards or to provide evidence that the learner can effectively perform what is required for their job role.
The assessor's role is two fold: to encourage learners to improve and to reinforce the learning that has already taken place. Assessors need to assist learners to recognise what they have already achieved and to highlight what learners may still require in order to improve or progress further. Additionally there are two forms of assessment that differ according to when they are performed: a formative assessment allows an assessor to ascertain a learner's current position or any learning that has already taken place in order to plan for further learning, improvement or development. Summative assessments allow information and evidence to be collected in order to confirm that learning has taken place.
1.2 The assessment process enables a learner to be assessed in a positive constructive way. A systematic procedure gives structure to learning and allows for continual feedback and reviews of the learner's performance until the qualification has been successfully achieved. A particular process, or assessment cycle, can be followed whether the learner is completing a subject that is theory or knowledge based, or one that is practical or performance based, and even those that are a mixture of the two. The assessment cycle can be repeated throughout the process until all components of the qualification have been achieved.
At the start of the cycle the assessor needs to determine the position of the learner when they begin learning the particular qualification being assessed. This includes any prior learning that has already taken place, their learning style and any particular needs or practical issues a learner has (such as availability, additional learning needs or any further support required). This information will help to tailor the assessment process to the needs of the individual learner and will maximise their potential for success. An individual assessor may not collect this information themselves but it must be made known to the assessor prior to any further assessment taking place.
Using the information acquired in the initial assessment and in full knowledge of the needs of the qualification an assessor and their learner should then plan how the assessment will take place - detailing which types and methods will work best for the learner and agreeing appropriate deadlines for the completion of tasks (these can be reviewed if the need arises but setting such targets allows the learner to be motivated and timely with their work). Some tasks may involve the use of colleagues or managers so it is also important to agree in advance who would be most appropriate and to plan their participation so that necessary arrangements can be made.
Once planning has been agreed (subject to change upon review if deemed...
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