The process of assessment

When it comes to assessment some providers and assessors forget what the process of assessment is, resulting in a slip shod approach to the assessment of learner results.

In some instances the course developers who include the assessment instrument as part of the package have no idea what assessment is, what the correct process of assessment should be and are not qualified as designers of assessments.

“Assessment is the process of making judgments about an individual's competence through matching evidence collected to the appropriate outcomes related to a specific unit standard, a series of unit standards, or a full qualification that have been registered by the South African Qualifications Authority”. (SAQA)

Assessment can be broken down to three specific phases and a total of 9 steps that should be followed. The various steps and phases have been clearly set out in the SAQA document “guidelines for the assessment of registered unit standard and qualifications” which all course developers, providers and assessors should be familiar with.

Planning and preparation phase

1. On receipt of the request to conduct the assessment the assessor should make him or her-self familiar with the unit standard and/or qualification to be assessed. It is the assessor’s responsibility to ensure they obtain an up to dates copy of and study the unit standard or qualification to be assessed as well as related assessment instruments and the marking memorandum.

2. The assessor would then plan the assessment, making decisions about the assessment methods, assessment instruments, activities, type and amount of evidence required etc. In addition the assessor would check the marking memos or model answers and the related marking or recording schedules to ensure suitability. The assessor does not have to just accept what a provider says and may make recommendations relating to changes as required.

3. The assessor would then agree to make use of the assessment instrument as provided or would updates or re-design the assessment, select the appropriate methods, instruments and materials (e.g. a test paper). The onus is on the assessor to ensure he/she is satisfied they are appropriate and meet the requirements as set out in the unit standards or qualification.

4. The assessor will then arrange a pre-assessment meeting where the learners are informed how the assessment will be conducted and the roles and responsibilities of each party to be involved. This task may be performed by the facilitator if a large number of learners are to be assessed and it may form, part of the 1st days training. It is essential that the person conducting such a pre-assessment meeting is a qualified assessor. If the facilitator and assessor are one and the same person that is fine but the facilitator may not be the moderator as this would be in conflict with a fair assessment process.

5. As part of the pre-assessment meeting the assessor would explain what is required, how evidence will be collected and presented as well as the type of evidence to be included. The assessor will share information related to the NQF and so on.

The information to be covered should be set out in the form of a pre-assessment meeting agenda. The content covered will vary from provider to provider. The learners should be asked to sign a form confirming the various issues have been explained to them and that they are now ready for and agree to the assessment.

The Assessment phase

6. The assessor will then conduct the assessment and collect the required evidence as presented by the learners. On receipt of the assessments in whatever form (e.g. written test or portfolio of evidence) the assessor will conduct the assessment making use of the marking memos and related recording sheets. All of the requirements are usually summarised in a matrix that covers formative, summative and critical cross field assessment requirements and all of the relevant areas should be included.

7. Once the assessment has been marked the assessor will make and record a judgement about the evidence presented. The evidence will be judged against the criteria as set out in the unit standard – all SO’s and AC’s must be considered and the principles of assessment must be adhered to. On completion the judgment of the assessor will be one of “competent” or “not yet competent”.

Feedback phase

8. The assessor will provides feedback to the learner with regard to the assessment decision. If the learner is deemed to be “competent” then there is no further action required other than his/her feedback on the assessment process and confirmation of receipt of the feedback from the assessor. Should the learner be deemed to be “not yet competent” then the assessor should explain where (which SO and AC in particular) and what remedial action is required. The learner would also be advised by when the remediation is required. The learner would also be advised of his or her right to appeal if they are unhappy with the decision. Receipt of this feedback should also be confirmed by the learner.

Evaluation phase

9. On completion of all of the above the assessor would then evaluate the entire process from start to finish and should compile a final feedback and evaluation report. This report should take into consideration all aspects of the process including the relevance of the unit standards, the assessment instrument, the marking memorandum and all other areas where comment is appropriate.

Note: The above information is intended as a basic guide for assessors and in particular new assessors. It is my personal opinion based on the SAQA guidelines. It is not necessarily a completed document and individual providers may well add sections or take a different approach. This is just a guide for information purposes – you may take it or leave it as you deem appropriate.

© Des Squire
AMSI and Associates cc

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