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Facing assessment

March 18, 2008

A pending assessment signals that the end of training is near. For the student it can be a mixed bag of emotions.

  • Excitement; finally they’ll be rid of the ‘ball and chain stifling’ their initiative at every step.
  • Fear; what if I fail, am I really ready?
  • Apprehension; I’m going to have do this alone – what if I need help?

These are just a few of the many possibilities that will confront the student in the lead up alone, let alone during and after the assessment. The problem we have as a trainer is that these emotions will play havoc with the student’s performance as the assessment gets nearer and may lead to a roller coaster of good days and bad.

Can we stop this? No. Can we prepare for and take action to reduce or mitigate the affects? Absolutely.

A fork in the road

We often consider a ‘T’ junction or fork in the road as two choices but their are actually three. We can of course go back the way we came. I use this analogy as a basis for my plan whenever I have a student nearing competency, and subsequently an assessment. It is a three pronged plan of attack:

  • What we are going to do to prepare for the assessment (to avoid going backward),
  • What we are going to do if we fail, and (just as importantly)
  • What we are going to do if we succeed.

Keep moving forward

To help the student prepare for the assessment we start early. Preparation improves performance on two fronts; first, the student feels ready and their confidence improves, and second, they are actually more ready having practised for the challenges. So having the student ready for the assessment conditions and aware of their expectations will reduce the doubt and performance anxiety leading up to the evaluation.

As an example – if I told you were about to do a typing test, you would probably be a little anxious about the what ifs. If I told you that you needed 40 WPM to pass and you could type at 50, you would be less anxious. If you could only type at 35, sure there would be some anxiety, but at least you know how to solve the problem and can do something about it.

What if we fail

Failing an assessment may feel like the end of the world for the student but there are actually some good things that come out of this scenario. First, the student has now practised under circumstances and has a better understanding of what can be expected. Second, the student has a clear list of their shortcomings that is usually considerably shorter and more detailed than the trainer has given. The drawback to this scenario is the loss of student confidence and potentially a loss in faith in the trainers ability if there were discrepancies between the trainer and the assessors evaluation.

The solution is to have a clear plan or course of action to overcome the shortcomings and utilise the strengths.

The dreaded success story

After the initial elation of passing, the student will be feeling some apprehension toward returning to work without the security of the trainer nearby. Regardless of the student’s capability, they are well aware that they are the same person the were yesterday. Sure, the trainer wasn’t keeping them from slipping into catastrophic chaos but the tips and advice still made the job just that little easier. What if something else happens? They may feel abandoned or have nowhere to turn for assistance.

Or worse, what about those students who no longer need advice from friends and peers. The have the assessors blessing and believe they are quite capable of getting themselves out of any hot water they are step in. They won’t accept feed back from peers (the assessor didn’t have a problem with it), make excuses (that’s the way I was trained) or draw the line at where their responsibilities lie (I don’t need to know that – that’s your job).

Once again, the solution is an action plan to continue student development and monitor progress. Just because the training has finished doesn’t mean that the learning will.

I’ll cover these in a bit more detail over the next few posts.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2008 4:51 pm

    Dear Duane
    The word that I keep identifying with is assessment. I agree with the definition of assessment as looking at what is done and what can be done after performance. I had been trained to only assess failure and not at the incremental positive successes.

    In Consistency

    Internal Energy Plus™ Consultant

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