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Competence in the Work Environment sample essay

2.1Compare the strengths and weaknesses of assessment methods. Assessment can take place in a variety of settings, such as classrooms, lecture rooms, workplaces (or in a simulation of workplace conditions), community and training establishments or examination halls. No matter where it takes place or what form it takes, assessment always involves observation, evaluation, or questioning or a combination of some or all of the three. There are many different methods of assessment, a few regularly used are:-observation, evaluation or questioning. Whether they are used formatively or summatively, the most important issue is whether the assessment is appropriate for the intended outcome. Each learner is initially given a learning styles questionnaire to complete. From this questionnaire the assessor can establish which from assessment may suit the learner best.


The assessor observes the learners as they carry out tasks defined in the standards for the qualification. This observation often takes place in the workplace, or the conditions of the workplace, but it can also be carried out in any other place where the learner is undertaking practical activities which is a positive. Assessors should ideally plan observations to take advantage of any skills or activities that occur naturally in the learning environment, and to make the best use of the available resources. There are times however when an assessor may spontaneously observe a learner carry out a task which can be written up as an observation. One of the weaknesses of observations is that some learners amy beome self –concious or shy/embarresed and feel they are ‘being watched and graded’. The residents or clients may also act differently if they are aware that an observation is taking place and can lead to a distorted picture of the true nature of the learners role.


In some areas, as learners work towards achieving their qualifications they will generate evidence in the form of products of their work. This is the case in qualifications in Health and Social care for instance which is primarily a work-based or practical qualification. Learners may produce CVs, diet plans, weight charts, reflective accounts which can all be used to assess their knowledge in a chosen subject area. These can be incredibly posistive and allow the learner to reflect and be proud of his/her practices and positives. The weakness with evalution is that it has to be done correctly, with enough time to explore areas that may need extra work and encourage the learner in a positive way.

Questioning and discussions with the learner

Questioning can be used whenever an assessor wants to assess knowledge and understanding and the various different applications of knowledge such as reasoning, planning, analysing and evaluating.

Questioning can be used to:

* confirm knowledge and understanding where it is not apparent from performance * Address gaps in knowledge and understanding in performance based units * Authenticate evidence by asking learners to explain part of the evidence and/or describe the process of producing it * Assess contingencies where it would not be practical or safe to wait until the skill or activity can be observed *

You can use oral or written questions, depending on the requirements of the outcomes of units being assessed and the circumstances of the assessment. Your choice of method should reflect any special assessment requirements your learners may have. For example, some learners do not respond well to written questions — in any case, you should always ensure that the appropriate reading level is used

Discussions give the assessor the opportunity to gauge the learner’s knowledge and highlight areas lacking which can be taught at a later date. A weakness in discussions and questioning is that the assessor has to be careful not to lead or prompt or give the answer to the learner as it may not be valid.

Outcome 3Understand how to plan assessment

3.1Key factors when planning assessment

When planning an assessment there are a number of factors to be considered. Who are you assessing? What do you want them to achieve? Where will the assessment take place? How long do you have? Once you have answered these you then need to look at applying a holistic approach. Using a holistic approach means that many areas of work and outcomes can be covered at the same time. The assessment process isn’t just about watching a learner complete a task it is about, discussion, planning, implementing and reflection.

Areas of risk that may be involved when I assess a learner in the care setting are minimal but may still arise. An example of this would be assessing a learner carrying out a manual handling task. Has the learner had the appropriate training to carry out the task? Is there a piece of equipment involved and has it been tested for use. Is the learner competent and confident to carry out the task? Do I feel that I have assessed any risk involved and am I happy for my learner to proceed? If I am not happy at anytime then the assessment will be stopped and a further risk assessment carried out. During the initial meeting the learner will have completed a Learning Styles Questionnaire, this should have highlighted any areas such as advanced learning needs or dyslexia and the planning of an assessment should take this into consideration.

3.2 Benefits of using holistic assessment

Using a holistic assessment enables the assessor to cover a large range of outcomes in a number of diploma units with one piece of evidence. Holistic assessment may for example cover infection control and manual handling. By referencing outcomes well the learner will see that good progress is being made and opportunities area taken. It saves time from both the learners and the assessor’s point of view.

3.3 How to apply holistic assessment when planning assessment

As the assessor meets with the learner and plans each technical certificate or unit of work they should be thinking about how best a holistic assessment would fit into the plan and how it can be cross referenced. The learner must then be in agreement and sign the plan.

3.4Summarise the types of risk that may be involved in assessment

When talking about ‘risk’ there are a number of different kinds. There is physical/environmental risk to learner, client and assessor and there is emotional/psychological risk. Environmental issues in care setting such as fire, health and safety, trip hazards, the clients themselves. Emotionally learners could feel they are being pushed if too much work is given at once or they may not feel they are being challenged enough. This creates unrealistic and unnecessary risk stress on the learner and is far from beneficial and conducive to good work being produced.

3.5.1 How to minimise risks through the planning process.

Plan number one that is produced with the learner will have ensured that the learner is working in safe conditions and if needed any risk assessments have been done, i.e. if the learner is under 18 years old. The plan will also check that the employer’s insurance liability is up to date. The assessor will discuss with the learner how best to handle their work load to cause minimum stress. Some learners prefer large assignments whilst others prefer small chunks at a time. By knowing your learner you will know whether their work is authentic and justifiable, it is important that they are told about not copying and pasting articles as their own work and explain to them what plagiarism is.

Outcome 4Understand how to involve learners and others in assessment 4.1 Explain the importance of involving the learner and others in the assessment process

There are a large number of reasons why it’s so important to involve the learner in assessment. The diploma is for the candidate, it’s their work, and there goals and they need to feel as if they own it. By clear involvement the learner will know what is expected from them and clearly understand the standards and criteria. By involving others in the planning such as senior colleagues and managers then witness statements can be provided, time allocated for learning and support.

4.2 Types of information available to learners.

In order for a learner to complete their diploma they should be given any necessary teaching and resources. This may include handouts, oral teaching sessions and websites to look at. Other types of information are items such as standards and the criteria they need to meet. The learner will be told how the evidence is gathered an in what format such as written accounts, reflective accounts, observations.

4.3 How can peer and self-assessment be used to promote learner involvement and responsibility?

4.4How can assessment arrangements be adapted to meet the needs of the individual learner? Each candidate’s assessment needs must be considered in relation to the assessment being undertaken. Most candidates will require more than one assessment arrangement. For example, candidates who have a visual impairment, hearing imparient or advanced learning needs .

Outcome 5Understand how to make assessment decisions

When judging evidence we use the following terms:-
Valid, authentic, current and sufficient.

When assessing a learner’s evidence as an assessor I have to be satisfied that the work submitted is the learners own work and not plagiarised from a book or the internet. It is often easy to tell when this happens as the terms used and flow of the writing changes. Within the realms of health and social care the standards, policies and procedures are continually updated to ensure national standards are met, with this in mind it is important that the learners work is current and up to date with knowledge that his relevant and not historical. I also have to consider whether the work submitted is sufficient, has it covered the entire outcome required and does it show an understanding of the subject.

In order for assessment decisions to be reliable and fair between learners there are a set of learning outcomes and criteria that have to be achieved. Each learner is made aware of these outcomes and criteria and their work should demonstrate this. Each learner is assessed against the criteria and outcomes.

Outcome 6Understand how your assessments contribute to the quality assurance of assessment

6.1 6.2 6.3
There is great importance of quality assurance in the assessment process as it shows whether the performance targets are being met against national standards that are in place. Within my workplace all work is quality assured by an Internal Verifier (IV). The IV is qualified and occupationally competent in the subject that they verify. The role of the IV is to provide support, advice and guidance to the assessing team. The IV holds regular standardisation meetings with the assessors and also gives one-to-one support and feedback on learner’s portfolios.

When the portfolios of learners have been assessed and internally verified, and all the assessment criteria have been met, the IV should arrange for the centre to apply for certification for those learners. This will prompt a visit from the External Verifier to confirm the assessment and verification decisions made at the centre. The IV is responsible for ensuring that the details of the learners applying for certification, the assessor(s) involved, and the IV activity in relation to those assessors. The EV will visit the centre to verify the assessment and internal verification decisions made by centre staff. Where there are large numbers of learners this is normally done on a sampling basis. The sample is selected by the EV, to allow them to verify the work of all assessors across a range of evidence types and performance criteria and is based on the IV’s sampling plan. It may be necessary for the EV to sample more portfolios than was originally planned, or all the portfolios in the group, so all portfolios should be available on the day of the EV’s visit. If a learner feels ……………………………….

Outcome 7Understand how to manage information relating to assessment of occupational competence

7.1 7.2
It is important to follow procedures for the management of information relating to assessment for a number of reasons. The assessor should regularly update learning records to provide accurate information on the learner’s achievement. At my place of work we use a computer system called ‘Zylab’ which tracks each learner’s progress through a colour chart system. The up to date information contributes to evidence of quality assurance and standardisation, pointing out learners that need extra help or who are falling behind. I use the Zylab forms to show my learners how they are progressing, to see a visual representation of progress and can be extremely rewarding and increases willingness to learn and achieve.

The use of feedback and questioning during the assessment process allows me as an assessor to clarify and judge the learners understanding and knowledge in certain areas. Giving critical feedback to someone is a delicate process. It is very important to assure that you approach the task with sensitivity to the person’s feelings to avoid the common problem of a very defensive reaction. An example of giving positive, negative and positive feedback is:- You really did an excellent job with that ‘Communication’ essay – everybody has been very impressed! In the future, it would be better to avoid naming people that haven’t accepted all the methods you outline. It’s great that you put so much thought into this and a lot of people are going to benefit from it!” This is often referred to as a feedback sandwich.

Outcome 8Understand the legal and good practice requirements in relation to assessment

The organisation that I work for has legal requirements, polices and procedures in relation to assessment. Each visit to see a learner I ask whether there have been any incidents that have occurred, either emotionally or from a health and safety perspective. If there has been then I check an incident form has been completed (if appropriate), what measures have been put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again and I take time to listen to the learner express themselves. All work undertaken is dealt with in a confidential manner. No names of places, clients, service users or staff are used in portfolio evidence and the learner knows that they can talk to me in a confidential manner. Clear records of learning are kept for all learners as mentioned before we use Zylab sheets which must be updated every Friday. The organisation has a responsibility to ensure that all learners are given equal opportunity to develop and learn and the organisation recognises the diversity in each one.

The use of technology can make in the assessment process is invaluable. I have a learner with advanced learning needs who really struggles with writing and spelling. To overcome this we use a Dictaphone and use the recording as oral evidence. The organisation now offers on line training which for many learners is ideal as the use of computers within day to day lives and workplaces becomes far more common. It has to be remembered though that there are older learners that we assess that don’t have the computer skills and would rather use a paper portfolio. Each learner needs to be assessed as an individual.

There are legal and best practice requirements that have to be met in relation to assessment with regards to gender, disability, race/culture/religion and language. Each learner that enrols on a course is initially assessed as to any factors which could lead to advanced learning needs. These needs may be due to language barriers, religion or culture. For every learning need identified the organisation has a duty to ensure each one is recognised and the appropriate support is given.

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