Workplace assessors are an important part of the training cycle. They oversee the formal marking process and provide mentoring. They are a vital part of maintaining the quality of Primary ITO qualifications and programmes. This issue, Primary ITO provides an overview of what makes a good assessor
A workplace assessor is usually an experienced supervisor or manager, who works in an organisation that has trainees. They are registered with Primary ITO as a workplace assessor to assess employees in their workplace. The workplace assessment task is performed in addition to their normal duties.
Because the assessor plays such an important role in the learner experience, there are some processes in place to ensure that learners, employers and assessors are getting a consistent quality of experience.
In addition to being registered as workplace assessors with the Primary ITO, our workplace assessors are expected to have a minimum level of professional assessor training (Unit Standard 4098 for workplace and affiliate assessors, and Unit Standard 30421 for ITO training advisers). The Primary ITO Quality team also regularly reviews the workplace assessors’ professional practice, and assessors are expected to participate in ongoing continuing professional development workshops offered by the ITO.
Workplaces assessors have a lot of responsibility – they’re required to make the final decision regarding a learner’s competency, and they have the authority to register the assessment results with Primary ITO, who report those to NZQA. After registering results, all workplace assessors have to hold the evidence of their judgements for a minimum period of two years.
Assessment and learning linked
When assessment happens during learning, it is usually informal and known as formative assessment. Formative assessment happens when a supervisor gives a trainee feedback on how they are getting on with a particular aspect of their work.
Summative assessment, on the other hand, is what happens when the supervisor considers that the apprentice is ready to demonstrate knowledge of the different elements of particular tasks—this happens at the end of a particular learning process, and is when a judgement is made that the standards have been met.
In summary, formative assessment helps the learner to reach the standard and summative assessment results tell us whether or not the person has met the standard.
Assessment an on-going process
When well designed and implemented, assessment provides opportunities for trainees to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to meet competency standards set out by the ITO. It is therefore not just a ‘one-off’ event that happens between assessors and trainees. Assessment is the evidence-gathering process carried out by trainees, verifiers, and assessors that supports trainees to achieve what is required for gaining qualifications.
Workplace learning frequently involves dividing the roles of teacher or trainer, assessor, and evidence collector between different people. This makes workplace learning different from other institutional educational settings, where those different roles are often carried out by one person.
It can be an assessment strength to have different people in different roles, because they can contribute to broader and potentially more valid judgments of achievement than relying on the judgment of one individual.
Commitment and more
We require assessors who are committed to the industry and to supporting learners and employers. Workplace-based assessors are often nominated by others for the role and on the basis of their technical expertise.
It is important to also consider other attributes such as good communication skills, literacy and numeracy skills, thoroughness, and trustworthiness, because these are essential to being a good assessor. The ability to assess across a range of unit standards requires assessors to have a deep understanding of what they are assessing, as well as the important ‘soft skills’.
There are massive benefits for a workplace having its own assessors. It means that:
The trainee can be assessed without having to stop working or travel somewhere.
The assessor intimately understands the workplace and often knows the trainee.
The assessment costs are often reduced for the organisation.
It’s easier to adjust assessment practices to suit the workplace situation and the trainee.
So, given how important the role of a workplace assessor is, what makes a good workplace assessor?
A successful assessor takes pride in their work and is honest and assesses to the principles.
As an assessor, definitive decisions are important. Assessors must be strong in their decision making, as indecisiveness undermines authority and erodes your student’s confidence and trust in you.
The ability to manage one’s time effectively
An assessor needs to plan the process and timing to ensure they have the ability to gather the evidence that is needed.
A professional demeanour
An assessor needs to understand the learner’s perspective, but maintain the integrity of the assessment methodology, and to maintain trainee confidentiality.
A great assessor can step outside themselves and take the time to understand their learners’ situations.
Attention to detail
Ensuring the completeness of assessment and that the evidence can be triangulated (see top, right).
Willingness to assume full responsibility
An assessor must set a good example for their students. Sometimes this involves admitting when you are wrong and being responsible for your decisions and the results.
The ability to be cooperative
Cooperation is essential when it comes to the successful relationship between a student and their assessor.
So you want to be a workplace assessor?
The general rule of thumb is that workplace assessors are people with Primary ITO trainees working in their businesses, and who have at least eight years’ industry experience, or hold a New Zealand recognised relevant landscape qualification. If you have a potential trainee looking to upskill, and you feel you have the attributes to be a good workplace assessor, get in contact with Primary ITO.
This article was written by Nigel Philpott, Chief Executive of Primary ITO.
Primary ITO offers landscaping apprenticeships and Landscaping Level 2, 3 and 4. For more information on landscape and other training, visit primaryito.ac.nz or call 0800 20 80 20.