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5 techniques to improve assessment entropy

December 14, 2009

The purpose of a work place assessment is to evaluate the student’s competency in a particular area in real working conditions. During the assessment, we have two primary concerns:

  • The assessment conditions are as real as possible, and
  • The student is behaving in a fashion that they would normally if this was as standard working environment.

Now these can be difficult to achieve, even if the environment is identical to those conditions the student would be subjected to post training. We can usually identify the events or environmental conditions that directly affect the realism and even though they are often beyond our control, we account for them in our evaluation.

It’s the subtle influences that we tend to forget about and ironically, these can have the biggest impact on the integrity of the evaluation. Why? Because we usually discount them altogether. What is most painful to learn is that we, the assessor, are usually the greatest contributor to these chaotic forces, often even before we start.

Here are five ways that you obstruct an assessment, before you begin.

  1. Be late. Be on time. Nothing says ‘my time is far more important than yours’ than tardiness. The impact can be devastating. While you delay, the student sits there pensive and uncertain. Is the assessment today? Did I get the timings wrong? Am I in the wrong place? Now even after you arrive, your rushing to get things back on schedule will influence the student; hey, they want to please you right, so they should pick up the pace as well.
  2. Neglect your personal care. This is a catch all area for all things about you that may be offensive to the senses of your coworkers. Sure, body odour can be off putting, but so can the smell of coffee on the breath or dirt embedded under the finger nails. Chew a mint, fire off an extra burst of deodorant and save the gym sessions until after work.
  3. Bring a conversation with you. Chatting can help the student to forget that they are being assessed, but excess unrelated conversation or continual witty retorts to other workers can alienate the student. First, they may feel like they are the only ones working (everybody else is chatting) and second, they may not feel that that have been fully initiated into the team (once they pass, then they can join in). Regardless of why, it will hinder their ability to concentrate or work with the rest of the team, even if it just to stop interrupting them.
  4. Bring the rest of your life with you. The assessment is now your primary focus. Unless you are needed to perform CPR on someone, don’t get involved with the machinations or politics of the workplace outside the realms of the assessment. That means no email, no phone calls, no quick words with the boss to keep the wheels turning, no marking papers, checking your diary or planning your weekend. ‘Multi tasking’ is another way of saying ‘diluting the time you are giving to the student’. You will miss something.
  5. Don’t prepare. Bring the appropriate documentation, writing implements and other necessary tools. Make sure that you are mentally ready as well. What happens if the student fails, is ill or finishes early? Are you ready to take over if necessary (this is a workplace assessment)? Is the rest of the process up to date (documentation, reports, assignments, written examinations etc). Have you reviewed previous training or assessment reports.

I’m pretty sure that we are all guilty of at least one of these at some time during our assessing career. It can be easy to be come so accustomed to the assessment process that it can be a little ‘ho hum’, but trust me on this, this is an enormously, huge deal for the student. Carelessly considered remarks, gestures and practices can, and will, be interpreted by the student and affect their performance. They have a lot more riding on this than you do.

Look at how you conduct yourself before, during and after an assessment and ask yourself two things; what impact do you have on the assessment process (including the student) and how do you reduce that footprint?

Next post, I’ll look at the assessment itself and propose some assessor technique (etiquette).

Download my free e-book THE WORKPLACE TRAINERS TOOL KIT Eight models for effective on the job training.

New e-book coming soon: “IMPROVE YOUR TRAINING FROM WITHIN” Using the ‘hot wash’ to refine your training program.

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