How to determine the requirements for competency-based assessment

Quality assessment begins with a proper understanding of the assessment requirements. In theory, all qualified trainers and TAFE teachers should be able to analyse and interpret assessment requirements because it is covered during the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification.

Element 5 from the TAEDES402 Use training packages and accredited courses to meet client needs unit of competency requires assessment information to be analysed and interpreted. The following are questions that need to be answered when we ‘unpack’ a competency standard to determine the requirements for assessment:

  • What are the tasks to be performed?
  • Is the location of assessment specified?
  • Is access to specified resources specified?
  • What knowledge must be demonstrated?
  • What is the volume or frequency of evidence required?

What are the tasks to be performed?

Generally, the assessment tasks used to gather performance evidence should be realistic tasks or activities that would be performed in a typical workplace. Each unit of competency provides a description of performance criteria that must be demonstrated before a candidate can be deemed competent. And there must be evidence for every performance criteria.

Performance evidence

The following is the Performance Evidence for the SITHCCC003 Prepare and present sandwiches unit of competency. This is an example showing that all the elements and performance criteria must be assessed.

Some Training Packages, such as the BSB Business Services, FNS Financial Services, and ICT Information and Communications Technology, have specified that the foundation skills must also be demonstrated before a candidate can be deemed competent. The following is the Performance Evidence for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency. This is an example showing that all the elements, performance criteria and foundations skills must be assessed.

If you would like more information about integrating foundation skills and performance criteria, please see my previous article titled, How to incorporate foundation skills in vocational education and training.

Elements and performance criteria

Some units of competency may describe one, and only one, work task or activity. The following are the elements and performance criteria for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency. This is an example showing that all elements flow together to describe one task:

  • Prepare to develop a document
  • Develop the document
  • Evaluate and finalise the document.

One assessment task could be used to gather the performance evidence for all the elements and performance criteria.

Some units of competency may describe more than one work task or activity. The following are the elements and performance criteria for the BSBWHS211 Contribute to the health and safety of self and others unit of competency.

In the above example, the range of tasks include:

  • Carry out pre-start checks
  • Identify, respond and report incidents (this implies that more than one or different incidents need to be covered)
  • Identify, record and report hazards (this may to part of a pre-start check or a workplace inspection)
  • Participate at a workplace safety meeting.

Therefore, three or four assessment tasks would be needed to gather the performance evidence for the different work tasks or activities covered by the BSBWHS211 unit.

Is the location of assessment specified?

Sometimes the assessment must be conducted in the workplace. For example, the TLIC3033 Drive an electric tram to operational requirements unit of competency states that the practical assessment must occur in the workplace.

The next example is for the CHCECE005 Provide care for babies and toddlers unit of competency. This unit specified that the assessment must be conducted in a workplace, and that workplace must be a registered childcare centre.

The SITHCCC003 Prepare and present sandwiches unit of competency requires the assessment to be conducted in an operational commercial kitchen. This location can be a workplace or a ‘fully-equipped training kitchen’. During the 1990s, many TAFEs established ‘training kitchens’ to serve ‘training restaurants’. These facilities operate exactly like any other operational commercial kitchen with paying customers.

It is common to find units that permit assessment to be conducted in a workplace or a simulated workplace. The following example is for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency. It clearly states that a simulated environment must replicate the conditions that would be found in a real workplace.

The above four examples illustrates the variation in assessment locations that have been specified by industry.

Is access to specified resources specified?

It is common for units to specify facilities, equipment, or materials that a candidate must have access to.Sometimes the list of resources required are short. For example, here are the two requirements (two bullet points) specified for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency.

Sometimes the list of resources required are extensive. For example, here are the requirements specified for the SITHCCC003 Prepare and present sandwiches unit of competency. There are many bullet points with most have many sub-bullet points (and some sub-bullet points have sub-bullet points).

An RTO needs a checklist to ensure all the specified resources are available at the time of assessment. The checklist would need to be signed and dated by the assessor for quality assurance purposes, with the date being the same date as the assessment.

What knowledge must be demonstrated?

Identifying the required knowledge evidence is reasonably straight forward. Some units of competency list a small number of knowledge evidence items. For example, the following short list (three bullet points) is for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency.

Some units of competency have a long list of knowledge evidence items. For example, the following is the list (many bullet points and sub-bullet points) for the SITHCCC003 Prepare and present sandwiches unit of competency.

What is the volume or frequency of evidence required?

Many units of competency specify a volume or frequency of evidence require. For example, the TAEDES402 Use training packages and accredited courses to meet client needs unit of competency requires a candidate to analyse training specifications at least twice.

Here is another example for the ICTICT216 Design and create basic organisational documents unit of competency. It requires a candidate to produce at least two documents. Also, it requires the candidate to edit documents according to at least two different feedback suggestions.

The performance evidence must be read carefully to understand the amount of evidence required or the number of times the work task needed to be performed by the candidate. In the next example for the SITHCCC003 Prepare and present sandwiches unit of competency specifies six types of sandwiches that must be prepared, and a specified variety of breads and fillings must be used to make those sandwiches. Also, the sandwiches must be prepared within commercial time constraints.

Sometimes the volume or frequency of performance evidence required can become complex.

Contextualisation

Units of competency and their assessment requirements are usually written in a vague or ambiguous way. This allows us to contextualise them to fit different workplaces, different work tasks and activities, different facilities, equipment and materials, etc.

The following are some examples of contextualisation.

If you would like more information about contextualisation, please see my previous article titled, Importance of interpretation and contextualisation in the Australian VET system.

Usually, contextualisation will be needed to clearly determine the assessment requirements for different situations and circumstances. This is one of the great features of Australia’s VET system.

In conclusion

How do we determine the requirements for competency-based assessment? We must read the entire unit of competency and its associated assessment requirements. Industry will have specified:

  • Knowledge evidence required
  • Performance evidence required
  • Assessment conditions.

Evidence for all elements and performance criteria must be gathered. And some Training Packages are mandating that the foundation skills must also be assessed.

Other assessment requirements need to be identified, such as:

  • Volume or frequency of evidence
  • Location and resource required.

Quality assessment begins with a proper understanding of the assessment requirements.

I hope you have liked this article. And I hope you will ‘like‘ it.

I welcome your feedback and comments.

Australia’s VET system

Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system is complex and forever changing. People studying for their TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification may find useful information on this website. Tap or click on the following ABC logo to find out more.

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This article supplements the TAE resources that have been developed by On Target Work Skills.

Are you an RTO, and do you want to purchase quality training and assessment resources for delivering the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification?

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Training trainers since 1986

Author: Alan Maguire

35+ years experience as a trainer, instructional designer, quality manager, project manager, program manager, RTO auditor, RTO manager and VET adviser.

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