Set assessment tasks

The best way to assess many units is to set the student a task (or set of tasks) that addresses the requirements. In these cases, assessment is based on whether the student did everything in the tasks as instructed. If all requirements are expressed in the assessment tasks, you only need to record that that the student had satisfactorily done the task and give some comment and feedback.

I recommend that tools for task-based assessments should be:

You normally need more than one kind of evidence and often need multiple tasks to cover the whole of the unit, but you can record the whole assessment on a fairly simple form. I always aim to have one piece of paper for each student for the whole qualification.


How to write tasks

The task activity is the natural thing to do when performing the skill. You simply describe the task in the instructions to students. For example:

How you assess the activity is the natural way to find out what students did. For example:

Use projects. A longer term task with a beginning and an end is best assessed by a project.

They can be quite brief. Some descriptions of tasks can be quite brief (perhaps taking only a few lines in the unit description), if they require longer auxiliary resources such as instructions for large projects, research guides or essay presentation guides that are both a textbook and an assessment guide.

It often works well to ask students to do tasks based on the elements:

Should you include performance criteria? You might be able to edit elements and performance criteria into an assessment task for students to do. (If students do the task as described, they've got it.)

Should you exclude performance criteria? Students are more likely to fail if lists of written performance criteria will confuse and frustrate them. This is quite likely in very low-level qualifications that require minimal reading skills, with students who have reading disablities or LLN issues, and with students who have not studied for a long time and are afraid of lists of written expectations. You could leave the performance criteria to the assessor's observation sheet. (Just make sure that somewhere you tell students the standard of work that you expect.) Students who have relator-activist learning styles tend to ignore long lists and lose the peice of paper.

The assessment guidelines in the units often give useful advice, e.g. observation, interview, portfolio, project, corroboration of performance (usually a supervisor reference or an interview with the supervisor).

Use your existing forms and procedures. For example, use your OHS incident report forms as assessment tools for assessing OHS incident reporting. (You might already have assessment tools and didn't realize it.)

If the tools are only checklist forms, then you still need a set of instructions. Put them at the top of the form to keep paperwork down.


Variation 1: Tool developer sets the task.

The tool developer (who might be the assessor) carefully designs a task to meet a complex set of requirements. If the assessor is a different person from the tool developer, he/she cannot change it. For example, these materials set this kind of task to reflect the specific requirements of the TAA package.

Here's another example:


Variation 2: Students define their own tasks.

Many higher qualifications require students to be able to identify needs, create a strategy, and then plan, implement, and evaluate what they have done. The tool is then simply a statement of instructions and parameters. The recording form might be a template that can be used for a variety of tasks.



Variation 3: Students define their own tasks and write a formal report.

Many higher qualifications not only require the task, but also require the student to describe it or write it up in a formal document. The tool is a statement of instructions and parameters, the writing guide. Assessment will follow a set list of requirements, but must allow the assessor freedom to write an evaluation of the student's submission. Again, the recording form might be a template that can be used for a variety of tasks.