Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Assessing Competence - Is Knowledge Taking a Back Seat? (part 3)

Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time with an Employee who has taken up the challenge to change their role from being on the floor as a member of the operational body of staff to steer a course as a Workplace Trainer and Assessor. He will soon undertake his Certificate IV (TAE40110) and find out about the world of being a qualified Trainer/Assessor.

Our conversations over the afternoon were intended to share with him how we (BE Logistics Training) as an RTO operate. During this time we covered all of the required information about how to do this and that, where to find resources, who can be turned to for different types of information and support - all the things that are common to an induction. His enthusiasm to sink his teeth into the meat of the role was very obvious, and we got talking about the decision making processes behind determining assessment outcomes.

He asked about RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) and how this is different from traditional assessment processes. During this time we explored how RPL works and focused on the Principles of Assessment (as touched upon in the last post) and how they and the Rules of Evidence work synergistically. With the rules of evidence explained, he could see how planning an RPL process properly from the start can make the job a whole lot easier (I'll look at RPL in the coming weeks). What we discussed about the Rules of Evidence included understanding what needs to be considered in each rule of evidence, which include the evidence being:

      ·         Current
      ·         Valid
      ·         Sufficient
      ·         Authentic

These, as they stand alone can be a little vague for some. The rules of evidence are the requirements that must be met within the evidence collected when a judgement based on that evidence to determine competence is to be made. When we look at how they relate to evidence gathered, the following explanations can provide a bit of context for each of the Rules of Evidence.


Currency involves ensuring the evidence gathered supports a judgement that the Candidate can perform to current industry standards and/or practices. Consideration is also given to the age of the evidence, and whether that evidence presented by the Candidate is still current industry practice. For currency to be satisfied, the evidence needs to be from the present or the very recent past.


Validity is ensuring that all of the evidence collected is able to effectively cover all of the requirements within the unit of competence, or other appropriate benchmark and is relevant to industry.


Sufficiency relies on the assessment tools and assessment processes collecting enough evidence to make a decision about the Candidate’s competency. Sufficiency is best supported by a robust method of ensuring evidence supporting a Candidate’s assessment for competency is collected over a period of time in a number of relevant yet different situations or contexts. The use of a combination of different assessment methods will also support sufficiency. The methods and tools used to assess competency when considering sufficiency need to assess all aspects of the relevant competency to the appropriate enterprise standard. Sufficiency is not just about repetition, but about depth of knowledge. We can so someone replicate a process they have been trained in, but do they understand ‘why’ it is to be completed the way it is? This is often an aspect of sufficiency that is overlooked.


Authenticity is based on ensuring that the evidence collected is the Candidate’s own work. The most effective means of maintaining authenticity is through direct observations or various suitable methods of questioning. Submissions such as projects or written reports may require further authentication, which is not limited to but can be achieved through; follow up interviews or supplementary information from a third party such as a supervisor or manager, or through a declaration of authenticity made by the Candidate undergoing assessment.

When these rules are applied in line with the Principles of Assessment there is a greater chance that the process will be both true to the requirements for the determination made, and one that is supportive of both the Learner’s experience and development.

A big part of ensuring that as Assessors we capture evidence that is a true reflection of not just the Learner’s skills, but also their knowledge, comes from ensuring there is ‘sufficient’ evidence. After discussing these requirements and measuring the evidence gathered against the appropriate benchmark (or Unit of Competence) the importance of both fully understanding and planning for RPL by both the Assessor and the Learner, was understood.

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