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Assessment preparation

March 19, 2008

To prepare the student for the assessment we have two primary objectives. We need to ensure that the student meets or exceeds the assessment standards and they have confidence in their ability to do so. There are several steps we can take to achieve these goals.

Clarify standards: In a previous post I discussed standards as an underlying component of accurate student assessment. This may mean creating or defining standards where none exist. I’m not referring to making them up but discussing with co-workers, supervisors and the assessor(s) what are acceptable performance levels (eg Is the performance measured on error rate or production quantities – if so what is acceptable?).

What if an error is fixed – Is it still an error? Are you allowed to ask for help? In some circumstances, the student may be evaluated on their ability to recognise when assistance is needed? What is required knowledge, needing immediate recall and what can be referenced from guides or manuals, ‘open book’ style? Finally, are their any intangibles that need more clarification such as a student’s ability to react under pressure or scan a computer screen?

You should also consider your word hierarchies. Is good better than above average or just an indication of success? Is excellent better than great or outstanding? Are you an easy marker who can’t bear to pass a bad judgement? Praise is important but a student who gets good attempt, great work, going well and then subsequently fails the assessment may not actually be at fault.

Reassess: Review all of the competencies and reassess them. Some of these may have been ‘crossed off’ early in the training and not been practised since. Work sites are often very dynamic and procedures can be reviewed. Running through each of the competencies again can prompt the trainer to check for changes. The student knows much more now than they did then and may have additional questions that weren’t apparent at the time.

There is also the benefit of a confidence boost when the student has a few success and sees that the standards can be met.

Practice: Conduct practice assessments with the student, assuming the role of the assessor by observing and giving a full review at the end. Stay further away than you would normally and don’t discuss procedures to force the student to make their decisions and deal with the consequences. Just this simple change in the way you train will assist the student learning to adapt to new conditions.

Change trainers: Usually a student will feel additional stress when they are being trained by someone that they aren’t familiar with. Although we prefer to avoid this at the early stages, it can assist development during the later part of training. A different trainer will have different techniques and additional views on how procedures should be applied. They may also be able to offer more insight into assessment conditions or have more experience in areas that the primary trainer is weak.

Have the student assess: Just like having a student explain or demonstrate will assist their understanding a particular procedure, having the student assess the trainer or a co-worker can entice the student to be more critical. This can also have the befit of improving confidence by see that the trainer is ‘only human’ after all and that mistakes are inevitable.


It may not be necessary to implement any of these to make the student ready for assessment, especially if the student is familiar with the standards (eg re-famil training after absence) or is intimate with assessment standards (experienced worker in new role). You may also have a few other techniques up your sleeve that the student responds well to. It is necessary however to check that the student is ready for the assessment and the earlier you do this, the more time you have to do something about it.

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