Evidence Guides: The Missing Link in the Assessment Process


By Marietta van Rooyen

In the process of assessment we often expect candidates to gather and display evidence of their competence for assessment purposes. This turns out to be one of the most difficult things to do in the outcomes-based education and training (OBET) system.

We expect learners to be able to transcribe the outcomes and assessment criteria of unit standards into evidence from their workplace, classroom or previous experience, but give them very little guidance on how to do this.

I am convinced that we are doing our learners and providers a disservice by not providing them with evidence guides.

What is evidence?

Every assessor needs to ask for evidence of competence against the specific and critical outcomes of unit standards and learning outcomes of qualifications. Gleaning evidence from learners? performance is perhaps the hardest part of assessment.

To decide what can be accepted as evidence against the outcomes is so difficult, that the system provides for three helpers to the assessor and candidate. These are the evidence collection facilitator, the instrument designer and the subject matter expert who could also be the assessor.

Firstly the evidence collection facilitator (ECF) is an agent between the assessor and the candidate that assists the candidate to collect and present evidence for assessment purposes. To function properly the ECF needs to know what evidence is and whether the evidence collected is answering to the rules of evidence.

Secondly the assessment instrument designer functions on a higher level than the assessor and is able to define the evidence and then design an instrument to measure the evidence against. The instrument designer needs to find out from a subject matter expert exactly what kind of evidence will be acceptable as evidence against certain outcomes and criteria.

This means that there is a third person involved in pinning down the evidence, namely the subject matter expert. And yet we expect many candidates, especially in RPL assessments to be able to come up with the evidence without any assistance!

The four rules of evidence

The evidence used in assessment must be valid, authentic, current and sufficient.
If the evidence is valid it means that it provides information relevant to the standard and outcomes being assessed. Authentic means the evidence produced pertains to the learner assessed and is not someone else?s work.

Current means the evidence shows that the candidate is still competent at the time of assessment. Sufficient evidence means that there is enough evidence to convince the assessor that the candidate is competent against all the criteria, including knowledge, skills and attributes.

So what is an evidence guide?

An evidence guide actually stipulated the evidence required from the candidate to show competence against the outcomes. This evidence usually consists of specific tasks to be performed and must be recorded in a tangible way. This list of tasks against the outcomes is then documented to form an evidence guide.

At Assessment College we have developed about 40 evidence guides against different learnership qualifications. We find that few subject matter experts are able to develop evidence guides. They need to be assisted by training experts that understand the context of the qualification. We have learned so much during the generation of evidence that the guides have evolved and been changed into a much more user friendly format than we started out with.

Learnership providers have found that candidates need to be assisted by ECFs, even if they have evidence guides. The reason for this is that there needs to be some supervision and guidance for the learners to understand the nature of evidence.

Example of evidence

Here is an example of evidence from one of our evidence guides developed for the Services SETA, taken from a unit standard in the Real Estate qualification on NQF Level 4.

Specific Outcome 3: Describe the context of real estate practice

Suggested evidence for the above Specific Outcome is:

Use a mind map to explain the regulations affecting real estate practice. Refer to the regulations and show where they can be obtained.

There are strict financial requirements that must be met in real estate. Identify these requirements and make up a list to remind you of each requirement when you conduct business in future.

Identify the rights and responsibilities of the various role players in real estate using a matrix format.

There is a process that is followed in a property transaction. Write down how you manage this process, step-by-step, from mandate to conclusion.

Write a short report in which you give reasons why environmental issues might have an influence on your business. Describe the responsibility of your team members and other role players in this regard.

Identify other technical aspects in the real estate environment. Make up a list of these technicalities.

This helps the role players to understand the kind of evidence required by a subject matter expert assessor to make a judgement on competence.

The above example from a level 4 qualification should serve to convince you that it will not be fair to expect the estate agent learners to know what evidence they need to gather. Even the employer could not be expected to understand what is required. Perhaps the provider and assessor knew, but they are often not giving out this kind of guidance.


We often take it for granted that other people know exactly what we know. One of the most valuable lessons I learnt when starting to develop evidence guides, is that the evidence required is not as "self-evident' as I thought. The process of coming up with the evidence involves a skilled trainer as well as a subject matter expert.

The investment in developing evidence guides will be worth your while as it will be invaluable in setting parameters for materials development, assessment instruments design and the training in general.

For assistance in developing Evidence Guides contact Leon at [email protected]. With each set of evidence guides we generate we hand over a free set of Assessment College learner, employer and provider guides for learnerships.