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:
- A written document that explains what you expect of students, including a set of tasks for students to do. They need to be easy for the student and any other assessor to understand. The trick is to write tasks that accurately address all unit requirements.
- A simple form for recording whether the tasks were well done and for giving some feedback to the student.
- The mapping (which shows that tasks cover all unit requirements) can be something separate and need not be apparent in the assessment tools. (Auditors can look at a separate document and it need not add another layer of paperwork to the actual assessment process.)
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:
- You'd assess a unit on bicycle riding by asking the students to demonstrate riding a bike.
- You'd assess community development by running a community development project.
How you assess the activity is the natural way to find out what students did. For example:
- A simple practical task is best assessed by observation. You observe the student riding the bike.
- A longer term, ongoing routine task is best assessed by a supervisor reference.
- Written work is best assessed by written records.
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:
- Sometimes you can simply edit several compatible elements together into an assessment task for students.
- Sometimes you can edit all elements together from several related units. That is, one assessment task could cover multiple units. It's called clustering.
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.
Conduct an open-ended survey of a group of ten employees on their view of the firm's marketing plan, and present findings in a report of 2,000 words.
You will need to submit your field notes. In them, you are required to:
- record your fieldwork methodology
- report explicit information
- record your observations of implicit knowledge, including conceptual and perceptual systems where appropriate,
- empathetically represents the informants' viewpoints.
You should also formulate preliminary conclusions and provide justification from the data.
When you submit your work, include the questionnaire you used. You may be asked to explain the way in which you set out your field notes.
Here's another example:
Draw a kinship chart showing all familial relations in an extended family of not less than three generations. You may choose the family from any ethnic group as long as it is not your own. The requirements are as follows:
- Define the phenomenon described
- Include a clear, labeled diagram and charts, correctly using notation and standard symbols.
- Include in the description explicit information and implicit or tacit knowledge, including conceptual and perceptual systems where appropriate.
You should empathetically represent the indigenous viewpoint, and your field notes must follow a clear, logical order that is easy to follow.
Present out the chart according to the guidelines in the McDonald, Describing Societies (2001). You will need to submit both your field notes and your kinship chart.
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.
In your selected community, identify a community social need, create a strategy, plan an approach to meet the need, implement the plan, and then evaluate what you have done:
- Identify a particular social need that is not currently being addressed. It will need to be large enough to show that you can meet all requirements for this unit, but small enough for you to finish in the time you have available.
- Create a strategy to meet that need, for which you will need to consult with community leaders (or key community contact people). You should also seek advice from local government and any other relevant government agencies. When you have done so, seek approval from your practicum supervisor for the program to go ahead. You should have a schedule planned that will work in your community.
- Plan the details of what you need to do. You should also have this checked with your practicum supervisor.
- Implement what you have planned. Make any necessary adjustments as you go.
- Evaluate your progress when the program is stable enough to do so. (It will probably still be evolving.) You should make your own notes, but will present your evaluation in an interview.
For your assessment, the practicum supervisor will visit the location and interview key community participants using the open-ended questions in the appendix. You will also be interviewed to ascertain your rationale and the effectiveness or the program. Note: your workplace supervisor may also require written reports according to your organizational requirements.
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.
In your current organisation, identify one major current strategic challenge that faces the organisation and write a report for a board meeting.
In the report you will need to include:
- Specify the reasons for selecting that challenge
- How you ascertained its significance
- A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
- Implications for your financial position (as relevant)
- Implications for your market position (as relevant)
- Implications for human resources development (as relevant)
- Implications for strategic relationships (as relevant)
- Recommendations for action.
Present the report according to the format in McCleoud, Writing Reports (2001).