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115753 Formative assessment

115753 Learner guide

115753 POE guide

115753- Assessment Instrument

1.1 Introduction
Assessment is process in which evidence is gathered and evaluated against agreed criteria in order to make a judgment of competence for developmental and/or recognition purposes.

In the late 80’s, Government started researching a new training methodology – Outcomes-Based
Education (OBE). This method of training was adopted from the then Commonwealth training
method, which made provision for people qualifying not only by formal education, but also by
informal on-the-job training based largely on their experience. The system made provision for what is now known as “recognition of prior learning” – or (RPL) –
which basically entails testing a person’s ability to do a specific job and awarding this person either a qualification or credits towards a qualification, based on his current knowledge and ability to perform the required task. We shall discuss RPL in the next section 1.1.3.
The fundamentals of outcomes-based approaches to learning
The main idea in Outcomes Based Education or Competency Based Education is to cut the learning material (learning course) into small manageable chunks for learning. Each chunk is then formulated in a so-called Specific Outcome. A Specific Outcome summarizes its content in terms of a skill and knowledge as well as the associated assessment criteria which the learner has to satisfy. The shift with Specific Outcomes is from the inputs or traditional Contents Based Learning to the outputs or Outcomes Based Learning1.

Contents Based Learning …

  •  focuses on what the teacher will teach (the teacher has a series of objectives that if completed or met, show understanding of the material covered) odescribes the intent of teaching focuses on providing opportunity for learning
  • is predicated on a limited time scale (based around an estimated amount of learning
    done in a given time)
    o material is in the form of Study Manuals or Textbooks which are contents-driven

• Outcomes Based Learning…

o focuses on what the student needs to do
o describes the result of learning
o focuses on how learning is applied
o is, by its very nature, dependant on flexible allocation of time (the student dictates
what is learned and when)
o Guides define the learning outcomes and assessment criteria
o Guide contents are determined by the inputs of various role-players
o Guide contents are practical, addressing both skills and knowledge
o Material is used to facilitate the process of learning by providing information about
what should be learnt, how and when it should be learnt
o Material describes how it could be integrated with other aspects of the curriculum and
where the learner can find new or related information
o Guides, Facilitator Guide, Portfolios Of Evidence or Learner Workbooks are used in
conjunction with a structured programme strategy or curriculum to complete a
learning programme.

Outcomes based education holds the following key beliefs about learning and success:

  •  What and whether learners learn successfully is more important than exactly when, how and
    from whom they learn it.
  • All learners can learn and succeed, but not on the same day in the same way.
  •  Successful learning promotes more successful learning, just as poor learning fosters more
    poor learning.

Outcomes-based education and training (OBET) is characterised by the following:

• Outcomes and assessment criteria are stated clearly in the standards
• Outcomes are focused on skills, knowledge and attitudes / values
• Learning is facilitated and can take place anywhere (not restricted to formal learning)

• Both critical cross-field outcomes and specific outcomes are included in the assessment
• Outcomes describe observable, demonstrable and assessable performance
• Outcomes are broader in scope than a mere list of specific tasks or skills

Some advantages of outcomes-based education and training:

Learners know what is expected of them and can assess themselves
• Trainers can plan and prepare for maximum results
• Educational institutions can evaluate the effectiveness of their work against outcomes
• Outcomes are agreed between representative role-players and experts
• Theory and practice, skills and knowledge can be integrated
• Forces formal institutions and workplace management to cooperate in developing relevant
curricula based on standard

Disadvantages of outcomes-based education and training:

• Half-measures in applying the concepts results in a watered-down system that unfairly
discredits OBET
• Standards and outcomes must be written in such a way that everyone involved understands
• Resource-heavy as a wide group of role-players need to be trained to understand and use
the system.
• It must be possible to carry out practical assessment based on the assessment criteria
• OBET does not make provision for excellence
• Implementation of OBET is very costly and time consuming.

Comparison between Outcome Based Assessment and Content Based Assessment or Traditional

Assessment in traditional education is norm referenced. According to Du Toit (1999:9) norm
referenced assessment is associated with grading and ranking of learners by comparing learners
and averaging scores or grades of learners. Du Pré (2000:6) and Olivier (1998:3) state that
assessment within traditional education and training environments consists mainly of written tests
and exams.
Competency tests with set memoranda and criteria are passed or failed according to how well
students master the knowledge. Erasmus et.al (2006:213) write that the key word in outcomesbased assessment is “demonstration”. It implies that learners have to demonstrate their knowledge,
ability and competence and that assessors have to judge the quality of the demonstration and decide
whether the demonstration is satisfactory in order to award a certificate or qualification.
The assessment of outcomes-based learning is a continuous activity. Assessment is based on
assessment of knowledge, skills and adherence to specific processes as well as the achievement of
outcomes. Du Toit (1999:9) writes that OBET assessment focuses on the assessment of outputs
and products as opposed to inputs. Thus the emphasis is placed on the outcomes. The table below
summarises the key differences between content based and outcome based assessments