internal verification document by Diz1hfe4


									    Background

   The original Internal Verification procedure was introduced in September 1999,
   following the merger of High Peak College and the University of Derby. The
   system drew upon the good practices established at High Peak College and the
   Quality & Staff Development Office and it has provided a good foundation for
   Awarding Body Verification visits. However, the introduction of Key Skills;
   additional requirements of Awarding Bodies; the Joint Awarding Bodies Guidance
   on NVQs, the NVQ Code of Practice and changes to the Central Team have
   necessitated an update of practices and procedures.

    Introduction

   The credibility of any assessment system depends on fair, accurate assessment
   and effective quality assurance of qualifications. Internal verification and
   moderation plays a vital role in assuring quality. This handbook describes the
   process of assessment and internal verification and moderation for all FE
   programmes delivered at the University of Derby. It is based on the Awarding
   Body Common Accord (1997), the new Joint Awarding Body Guidelines (2002)
   and the new NVQ Code of Practice.

    Scope

   The procedure applies to all LSC funded courses delivered by the University. The
   programmes covered include GCSE, AS, A2, OCN, City and Guilds, GNVQ,
   AVCE NVQ, HNC/D, ND, NC, and any others where internal assessment leads to
   the award of a nationally recognised qualification.

    Purpose of Internal Verification and Moderation procedure

   The purpose of Internal Verification and Moderation is to ensure that the
   University has in place a unified, consistent, rigorous and defensible system for
   the assessment and verification of the qualifications it delivers.

    Terminology

   Generally a Verifier (either internal or external) checks that the standard has
   been met; a Moderator is an individual who has the authority to change the level
   of an award. However, Awarding Bodies may use their own terminology that
   differs from the terminology used in this University procedure.

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       Procedure

   There should be a named University Co-ordinator for each scheme/award. This
   individual’s name should be provided to the Quality Manager. The Co-ordinator
   will act as the main point of contact between the Awarding Body and the

   The Co-ordinator’s duties include:

      managing the scheme/award across all sites of the University

      liaising with Assessors, Internal Verifiers and the External Verifier

      notifying the Awarding Body of any staff changes to the programme

      liasing with Helen Richardson the Examinations Officer to ensure that all
       administration is carried out effectively and in line with Awarding Body policy

      ensuring that all Assessors and Internal Verifier/Moderators working on the
       programme have appropriate qualifications and experience. A copy of each
       individual’s Curriculum Vitae should be forwarded to Sandra Healy in the
       Quality Office.

      ensuring that all staff working on NVQ programmes have obtained the
       appropriate D32/33 or A&V Awards within 18 months of starting their role

      arranging regular staff meetings to monitor the progress and quality of the
       programme and to provide support as required

      informing the Quality Manager of proposed External Verifier/Moderator visits

       The Assessment Process

   The assessment process consists of:

      planning appropriate assessments/evidence

      ensuring that these are carried out correctly

      collecting and collating evidence

      making assessment decisions based on the evidence

      providing constructive feedback

      contributing to Quality Assurance processes

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        Internal Verification and Internal Moderation process
   Internal Verifiers/Moderators provide the quality assurance link between the
   Assessors within the University/organisation, and the Awarding Body via the
   External Verifiers and Moderators.

   Internal Verifiers / Moderators duties include:

      ensuring that assessment is fair, valid, and reliable and offers equality
       of opportunity

      advising and supporting assessors

      standardising assessment decisions

      ensuring that correct documentation for certification is completed

       working with assessors to design appropriate assessment activities/agree
       sufficient evidence

       sampling and observing the work of assessors / learners throughout the
       assessment process

      providing feedback to assessors on their assessment decisions and style of
       marking / observation

      maintaining accurate records

      checking that final decisions are passed on to Awarding Bodies.

       Features of Internal Verification / Moderation

   The main purpose of internal verification or moderation is to ensure that National
   Standards are being met and maintained.

   Whatever the detail of the process all systems have the following common

      an assessor cannot verify/moderate his or her own work

      the Internal Verifier examines assignments/products of work in order to check
       that they are fit for purpose, i.e. they enable a decision to be made on whether
       the learner has met the criteria.

       assignments should be examined prior to issue and products of work agreed
       before they are included.

      there must be written evidence that assessments have been examined prior
       to issue.
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       the Internal Verifier must ensure that Assessors are qualified and/or
       experienced in their area.

       there must be a record of each assessor’s qualifications/experience, plus
       endorsed copies of certificates for D32+D33 (A1), D32 (A2), and D34 (V1) for

       there must be a record to show updates of occupational competence
       undertaken on a regular basis, e.g. secondments, in-house training.

      assessment/observation decisions must be examined.

      there must be written record of this having been carried out.

       there must be written evidence that Assessor and Internal Verifier/Moderator
       decisions have been standardised.

       assessors must be given feedback on their decisions, which must be

       the Internal Verifier/Moderator must ensure that learners’ achievements are

      there is a defined sampling strategy, which is both formative and summative.

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       Policy Statement

It is the aim of the University of Derby to provide access to assessment and
accreditation within the University and with external partners that ensures equality of
opportunity for all learners. Internal Verification/ Moderation ensures the validity of
assessments and assessor decisions. The University places the highest emphasis
upon ensuring that all learners obtain fair, accurate and reliable assessment across
all awarding bodies in line with the Common Accord (June 2006), Joint Awarding
Body Guidelines (Sept 2001), NVQ Code of Practice (April 2002).

       Internal Verification Policy: Major Objectives

       To ensure consistency, transparency, reliability, fairness and validity

     To give quality assurance in assessment processes by establishing quality
      control mechanisms for assessment through a system of Internal Verification /
      Internal Moderation.

       To identify staff development requirements concerned with the assessment,
        verification and moderation process and provide a programme to match those

       Responsibility for Implementation

All University staff have a responsibility to implement the policy through working
within the attached framework.

The Internal Verifier/Moderator has a key role in assuring the quality of assessment
arrangements and assessment decisions both to learners and to the awarding body.

In order to meet the requirements of awarding bodies and the Qualifications and
Curriculum Authority each programme of study will aim to have at least two Internal
Verifiers/Moderators and/or where appropriate Internal Verifiers/ Moderators as
members of the team.

The Internal Verifier/Moderator will have knowledge and qualifications relevant to the
programme for which they are responsible. This enables accurate judgements to be
made regarding learners performance in relation to occupational and academic

Within programme areas there is a lead Internal Verifier/Moderator with responsibility
for quality assurance in line with the Common Accord and JAB Guidance.

GCSE/A level coursework moderation, subject staff must pay due regard to the
criteria written down in the syllabus. Where more than one person is involved the
team must carry out internal moderation. For large teams it would be of benefit if
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one member of the team took on the overall responsibility for Internal Moderation.
The main role of the Internal Moderator would be to ensure consistency of marking
across the team in line with the syllabus requirements.

The Quality Manager will be responsible for monitoring:

       the induction and training of Assessors and Internal Verifiers/Moderators
        according to the standards as laid down by the accrediting and awarding

       the University Internal Verification structure and co-ordination of the process

       reviewing processes and procedures as a result of student and staff
        evaluations and internal and external reports

       liaising with the External Verifiers and order to achieve and cross-college

       monitoring the Internal Verification / Moderation of a sample of programmes

       holding termly meetings with programme Internal Verifiers / Moderators

       The Roles and Responsibilities of the Assessor

Assessors responsibilities include:

       providing alternative methods of assessment for those with special
        assessment requirements

       ensuring the authenticity of learners’ work

       marking the assessment / carrying out the observation

       providing constructive feedback to learners particularly stating how they can
        meet the criteria/improve their performance

       arranging additional assessments if necessary

       meeting regularly with other assessors to ensure consistency.

       explaining and agreeing assessments with programme co-ordinators and
        internal and external verifiers

       recording learner achievement

       reporting achievement to programme co-ordinator Awarding Body via the
        Examinations Officer

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       ensuring that the criteria for success are clear to all learners

       obtaining the learners agreement to be assessed

       ensuring that learners are aware of the Appeals Procedure

       participating in any relevant appeals procedures

       The Roles and Responsibilities of the Internal Verifier/

The Internal Verifier/Moderator supports and monitors the Assessors and assists in
the maintenance of the quality control within the University. The Internal
Verifier/Moderator’s duties include:

       the coaching and development of all Assessors within the team

       supporting all Assessors who are new to the team

       verifying that all Assessors are trained and hold or are working towards
        achieving, the most appropriate qualifications including relevant A and V

       supporting Assessors in providing opportunities for judging against criteria

       examining assignments prior to their use to ensure that they are appropriate
        to enable assessment judgements to be made

       providing feedback to Assessors on the suitability of the assessment activity

       providing Assessors with all necessary documentation

       sampling learners’ work in accordance with sampling plans

       sampling learners’ work on an ongoing basis ensuring consistency is
        maintained across the programme whilst the qualification is in progress thus
        avoiding end loading

       making judgements on the quality of the assessment including feedback to

       standardising the decisions of all Assessors

       giving written feedback to assessors on their decisions

       ensuring that plagiarism has not taken place

       maintaining a record of this feedback
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       collecting learner feedback sheets, recording any comments and ensure that
        they are aware of the Appeals Procedure

       ensuring that assessment records are up to date and accurate

       ensuring that final grades/outcomes are justified

       maintaining consistency across the programme area

       ensuring that accurate information is sent to the appropriate person for
        forwarding to the awarding body

       obtained or be working towards, a verification qualification V1 (for NVQ only)

       liaising with the Lead Internal Verifier/Moderator and External Verifier/

       The Roles and Responsibilities of the Lead Internal Verifier/

To manage the Internal Verification / Moderation procedure

       To ensure that all Assessors and Internal Verifier/Moderators are
        occupationally competent, up to date and comply with Awarding Body

       To ensure that all new Assessors and IV’s are registered, approved by the
        Awarding Body and that the relevant documentation has been completed

       To ensure that all new staff follow a structured training programme A1/A2/V1
        for NVQ) that fulfils the requirements of the Awarding Body within a given
        period of time (18 months)

       To ensure that scheme approval is obtained via the University’s quality
        procedures for any new qualifications

       To ensure that teams are working with current standards

       To ensure that the work for all Internal Verifier/Moderator is standardised via
        three standardised evidenced action events per year

       To ensure compliance with the NVQ Code of Practice and Occupational
        Assessment Standards

       To organise conduct, and record Internal Verifier/Moderator meetings

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       To ensure that all information requested by the External Verifier/Moderator is

       To manage the Internal Verifier/Moderator visit

       To ensure that a copy of the External Verifier report is sent to the Assistant
        Dean Head of FE School

       To respond to all action points and concerns of the EV

       The Characteristics of a Sample

Verification and Moderation is about checking the quality and consistency of the
assessment process. Although samples can be selected at random, it is often more
efficient to plan a sample which targets particular characteristics that influence

The Internal Verifier and Moderator sample varies according to Awarding Body
Guidelines, but it is important to ensure that the work of all Assessors, all Units and
all the different methods of assessment are covered and where possible to sample
some assessment from all learners. The table below outlines the characteristics and
features of sampling.

     Characteristics                   Features which should be taken into
                                        account when selecting a sample

     The number and type of            Ethnic origin, age, gender, other
      candidates                        factors, special assessment
     The number of assessors           Experience and qualifications,
                                        workload, occupational experience
     The range of assessment           Observation of work practice, witness
      methods                           testimony. APL, use of simulation,
                                        product evidence, assignments,
                                        projects, tests, learners explanation
                                        and professional discussion
     The elements within the           Problem areas, special requirements
     The type of records of            Reports from assessors, correct
      assessment                        assessment practices, IV records,
                                        learner portfolios and files

     The number and range of           Workplace assessments, college and
      assessment sites                  off-the-job training, other assessment

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    Examples of the Size of a Sample

   The exact size is determined by the following:
       the need to verify the work of all assessors
       the need to examine all assessment methods
       the experience of assessors
       the characteristics of learners, e.g. age/sex/disability/ mode of attendance
       the location of assessments, e.g. college/workplace, satellite sites
       the number of learners

    Guidelines on the Size of a Sample


   The highest and the lowest above zero, plus three other at the grade borderlines
   for each unit. Once the Internal Moderator is confident that work has reached the
   required standard, formative and summative feedback should be given to
   learners on assessment decisions.

   Learners should be informed that final decisions can only be confirmed following
   internal verification/moderation and/or external verification/ moderation.

   A selection of the assessment activities is required. The exact size of the sample
   depends on the level of confidence that assessment practice is consistent over
   the whole programme. Where problems have been identified with a particular
   unit/element or assessors are inexperienced, a larger sample may be
   appropriate. Some Awarding Bodies set their own levels of sampling.

   When assessment is consistent the sample can be reduced to two, i.e. top mark
   plus one other.

    NVQ
   As the table above

    First, National HNC/D (Edexcel)
   The number of pieces sampled per unit is four. It is a good idea to sample
   top, middle and bottom. However, it is necessary to ensure that the work
   of all learners is seen at some point. For IVA’s all work is sampled and
   all work needs to be internally verified.

    OCN
   Whole elements or portfolios rather than individual performance criteria should be
   examined. This should take account of all assessors, all units, all assessment
   methods and where possible all learners. Where learners are carrying out a
   number of units, a planning grid should be used to ensure that Internal
   Verification covers a comprehensive range. Where units are included in an area,
   e.g. Arts, these should be part of that area’s Internal Moderation plan where
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      Assessment Methodology


This section of the guide is to help you use, with confidence, the methods of
assessment specified in the NVQ/SVQ standards. Initially designed for use with
NVQ/SVQs it may also act as a useful reference point when assessing learners on
other programmes. It is designed to complement your current knowledge about
assessment and to give you ideas on building your own portfolio of evidence to
support your judgements within the verification/moderation process.

This section provides information about the different methods of assessment;
identifies some advantages and disadvantages; gives some design pointers for the
various methods and gives guidelines about recording evidence.

It is intended to provide you with additional information to complement the
assessment guidelines contained within the NVQ/SVQ standards.

Purpose of Assessment

The aim of all assessment is to provide enough evidence of a learner’s competence
as defined by the elements and performance criteria, across the whole of the
specified range, for the unit concerned.

Only that knowledge essential for competence should be assessed. Assessment
provides evidence of competence and therefore entitlement to credit for that
particular unit.

The process of assessment involves collecting evidence and judging the evidence
against the defined standards.

As far as possible evidence for learners on NVQ programmes should be collected by
observing their performance at work, or if necessary, through one or more of the
other methods of assessment specified in this session.

Planning for Assessment

In most cases, the unit being assessed will include recommendations about the
method of assessment to be used.

It may be necessary to use the other assessment methods to gather supplementary
evidence, for example, if there is still insufficient evidence through the assessment of
performance or to gather further evidence of underpinning knowledge.

When carrying out assessments across the specified range, it will, in some cases,
become apparent that assessment of performance on its own is insufficient to credit
competence and supplementary evidence will be needed.
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When planning assessment it is important to bear a number of questions in mind.

       What is being assessed?

       What type of evidence is needed to establish competence?

       How much evidence is required to credit competence?

       What supplementary evidence is needed to credit competence?

       What forms of evidence of prior learning and achievement would be relevant?

       Is any additional evidence of present performance needed?

The guiding principle is to collect as much performance evidence as can be
reasonably obtained and support this with an assessment of underpinning

By being involved in assessments, and becoming familiar with the units and
specified performance criteria, you will find that the way you use the various
assessment methods will continually develop and improve, giving you greater
confidence in the competence judgements you make.

Collecting Evidence

There are four sources of evidence to show that the learner can perform the activity
described in a unit. Each source has its strengths and weaknesses, which is why it
may be necessary for you to collect evidence in a number of different ways.

   Observation in the workplace

    This is the preferred way of collecting evidence about workplace performance
    and is often the most straightforward and cost effective method of assessment.

   Questioning the learner

    The evidence collected through questioning can help you determine how much
    the learner knows about the unit being assessed and his/her level of
    underpinning knowledge. Questioning can also help you assess competence at
    work by establishing the potential performance of a learner.

    As an assessor, this method provides you with an invaluable tool when trying to
    make an assessment decision.

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   Performance of specially set tasks

    Specially set, work-based tasks, such as projects, give you an opportunity to
    collect evidence about a learner, in particular, the level of underpinning
    knowledge and understanding he/she is able to demonstrate in a work situation.

    It may also be necessary to assess how a learner is most likely to behave in a
    real situation by setting up a simulation in the form of a role-play or a case study.
    This is a particularly useful way of assessing a learner when the element or
    performance criteria being assessed occurs infrequently.

   Evidence from prior achievements (APL)

    As well as making competence judgements about current performance, it may be
    possible to make decisions about a learner’s performance based on historical

    Evidence, such as documents, portfolios of work or testimonials is collected by
    the learner and presented to help you make your assessment decision.


Observation of the learner carrying out his/her job in the workplace is the method of
assessment recommended in the vast majority of units and elements you will be
involved in assessing.

Observation of staff carrying out their duties is something that supervisors and
managers do every day.

As an assessor, you will still be watching your staff perform, but the difference is in
the way you make a judgement about what you have seen.

Observation is the method you use to collect enough evidence about the learners
performance to credit him/her with competence in the unit you are assessing.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Observation as an assessment method has many advantages. It may only require a
little more extra time than you would normally devote to monitoring a member of
staffs performance. It takes place at work and with as little disruption as possible,
and it gives you a real opportunity to gather evidence over as long a period of time
as is necessary to be satisfied that someone is competent.

On the negative side, this method of assessment can be open to inconsistencies in
the assessment judgement unless well planned, and some learners may feel
uncomfortable about being “watched”. The recording of the evidence gathered may
require some time on both the learner’s and assessor’s behalf.

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Collecting Evidence Through Observation

With all methods of assessment planning plays an important part, and using
observation to collect evidence is no different.

Before you observe an activity being performed at work, both you and the learner
must be clear about the unit or element being assessed and the evidence required.

It can be very easy to watch a learner perform without being able to attribute that
performance to any one particular area covered by the element. Equally it could be
very easy to miss a piece of valuable evidence if you were not prepared to look for it.

When planning to observe your learner, make sure you and the learner are clear

   what it is you are assessing, ie the limits of assessment

   how much evidence is required to tell you when the standard has been reached.

When observing your learner’s performance it is essential that:

   you are as unobtrusive as possible, but in a position where you are able to see

   you do not interrupt, but are there to give help, advice and support if needed

   you take notes during the assessment to help you question the learners
    afterwards and to act as evidence when making your assessment decision.

It may also be helpful to use photographs or video recordings to help with feedback
and assessment decisions.

Remember, it is insufficient just to watch your learner perform the activities - you
must record the evidence you have seen for you, your learner and your internal


Questioning can sometimes be used to assess a learner in those areas of work
which cannot be assessed by observation. Guidance on when this way of assessing
can be used is given in the assessment for each individual unit.

Questioning is also one of the most appropriate ways you will be able to collect
evidence to assess a learners understanding and underpinning knowledge.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

The main benefit you will gain from questioning is the confidence that you have all of
the evidence about a learner’s performance, and are in no doubt about the
judgement you are making.

Questions help you to develop a rapport with the learner and to give the learner an
opportunity to show what he/she knows.

By asking questions you are also able to clarify situations, and check your own
understanding of the performance you have just observed.

As with all methods of assessment, if there is insufficient thought put into the
planning of questions then the evidence you collect could lead you into making
inappropriate decisions about your learner’s competence.

Using Questions in Assessment

Questions can be used in two ways:

   oral questions (perhaps supported with picture)

   prepared written questions (perhaps in the form of questionnaires or multiple

In both cases, the learner should be given as much opportunity as possible to
demonstrate, through his/her answers, the underpinning knowledge and
understanding he/she has.

Oral questioning can be carried out whilst a learner is completing a particular activity,
or immediately after the activity, giving you a chance to check his/her understanding.

If questioning a learner whilst he/she is performing an activity, it is important not to
cause any distraction to the learner, which might endanger him/her or others. The
questions being asked should relate to the element being observed, and seem very
natural to the learner.

It is essential that questions you ask do not go beyond the knowledge and
understanding required for the element.

It may be you will need to ask a series of questions, building on the answers from the
learner until you have assured yourself of his/her knowledge.

Written questions are more appropriate if you are assessing learners at levels 3 and
4. They are often best used after the learner has completed the activity and may
complement the oral questions you asked during the assessment.

It is important to remember, however, that where written questions and answers are
a preferred method of collecting evidence of underpinning knowledge, you consider
September 2010                                                              Page ….. 15
alternative oral questioning for those learners with special needs. In this case it may
be possible to represent the questions visually (with, perhaps a diagram) to elicit

If you are using a written approach to questioning, get your internal verifier to check
over your questions before using them, you may find that there are pre-set tests
which could help you.

Design of Questions

The value of the evidence you are able to collect through questions will depend to a
great extent on the quality of the questions posed. As an assessor you will have
plenty of opportunity to practise your question technique as you become familiar with
the detail of the units and elements.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when planning questions:

   questions should be short, clear and easy for the learner to understand

   questions should be relevant to the element or performance criteria being
    assessed and aimed at one answer

   questions should be open-ended, beginning with who, what, when, how and/or

   the style of the question should fit with the learner and the element or
    performance criteria being assessed

   wording of questions should not cause embarrassment to the learner

   the level of the question should not be pitched too high or too low for the learner
    or the evidence required.

As mentioned, there is a need to practise developing questions for assessment,
particularly when first becoming involved in assessment.

Collecting Evidence Through Questioning

For questions to be of any value in the assessment process, the answers given need
to be recorded. Questioning will not be the only method being used and it may be
that over time you will need to refresh your memory about the answers the learner
gave. Recorded answers also form the basis of the evidence required to accredit

Written tests or questionnaires are relatively easy to use as the answers could be
recorded on the question sheet.

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In the case of oral or pictorial questioning, it is essential the questions and answers
are recorded. It is likely the verifier will want to see them to support your
assessment decisions.

It may be possible to record the question session on tape, or just keep notes of the
questions asked and the answers given.

When collecting evidence through questions do not ‘skip’ a subject if it has been
asked about before in a different unit or element. The context of the question will be
different for each unit and element and should be asked at each appropriate time.


Where possible assessment should always be carried out by observing natural
performance in the workplace. Simulated performance, however, can be used,
where specified, to collect evidence about an aspect of the learners work which
occurs infrequently or is potentially hazardous, for example dealing with fires.

By designing the simulated situation, briefing the learner and observing his/her
performance, you will be able to elicit evidence which will help you judge how a
learner is most likely to perform in real life.

There are two main types of simulations indicated for assessing NVQs/SVQs. These

   case study
   role-play

The design and setting up of case studies and role-plays will usually be the
responsibility of a level 3 and 4 assessor or the internal verifier and this is dealt with
in more detail in the next section of this guide.

However, role-played and other simulations are sometimes used for assessing units
at levels 1 and 2, therefore all assessors should be familiar with the basic principles
for using simulations as a means of assessing learners for NVQs/SVQs.


To be successful, simulations rely on the learner being fully briefed on the content of
the materials and details about the assessment method being used. The learner
also needs to be very clear about how the outcome of the simulation relates to the
overall assessment he/she is undergoing.


You must be very clear about what the simulation is hoping to achieve, what to look
for in the learners performance, what questions to ask to elicit evidence and what
feedback to give once a judgement has been reached.
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The points mentioned so far suggest a structured approach to designing and
implementing a simulation. However, it may be appropriate to use a more
spontaneous approach, for example during questioning you could ask the learner to
demonstrate a point he/she is describing, or during a feedback discussion you may
introduce a situation recently observed and ask the learner to re-enact it to help you
reach your assessment decision.
Whether spontaneous or structured, simulations will help you collect evidence on
which to base your decisions.

Using Simulations in Assessment

The most effective simulations are those which are well thought out and managed by
the assessor.

Following these ten steps will help you.

1.    Identify the element or performance criteria being assessed.

2.    Think about a situation which the learner will find familiar and as “real” as

3.    Plan the content of the simulation and how it will be carried out.

4.    Brief the learner, describing the situation fully.

5.    Agree with the learner how the evidence will be presented.

6.    Check the learner is clear about what is required.

7.    Carry out the simulation exercise, providing guidance and support where

8.    Collect appropriate evidence, using questions and observation.

9.    Hold feedback discussions recognising competence where appropriate.

10.   Review and determine further assessment requirements, if necessary.

Collection of Evidence

Simulations and the validity of the evidence they produce depend upon the way in
which they are designed and operated. The evidence of competent performance is
gathered as a result of observation and questioning.

The briefing materials and any other prepared support information used to prepare
the learner will help verify the judgement of competence made.
September 2010                                                             Page ….. 18
Strengths and Weaknesses

Simulations have a number of advantages.

To the assessor:

   being able to isolate and specify precisely the element or performance criteria
    being assessed

   being able to manage the assessment process and include simulations at
    appropriate times

   being able to judge how well a learners abilities could be demonstrated in the

   being able to assess the potential performance of a learner when the real
    situation only happens occasionally

   being able to identify levels of underpinning knowledge.

To the learner:

   being able to gain recognition for a competence where situations in the
    workplace happen infrequently

   being able to demonstrate a competence within a relatively ‘safe’ environment

   having an opportunity to seek clarification and receive feedback in a controlled
    environment hence building confidence

   being able to work with the assessor (where appropriate) in designing a
    simulation to demonstrate competence.

There are also some disadvantages.

   the learner may be ill at ease in a simulated situation

   briefing the learner requires thorough planning, organisation and time

   by involvement in the simulation you might inadvertently influence the outcome of
    the activity

   it may be difficult to ensure that the results exactly reflect the real-life situation

   the learner may find difficulty in seeing the relevance of a simulated situation to a
    real-life one.

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Simulated Environment

When planning an assessment using a simulated environment there are a few
pointers to help it work:

   make the content relevant to the learner

   ensure the simulation will enable you to collect the evidence you require

   keep the content simple for all participating

   make the situation as close to real life as possible

   ensure the situation being simulated is manageable and meaningful, giving the
    learner an opportunity to demonstrate competence.

Above all try and avoid situations which might embarrass or ridicule your learner;
he/she should feel very comfortable within the situation you have designed.


When using simulated situations to collect evidence about a learners performance,
the need for well thought-out questions is essential. It is not enough to rely on the
observations you have made throughout the exercise; you need to confirm the
likelihood of the learner being able to transfer his/her performance into the real

Questions need to elicit as much evidence as possible to confirm the learners depth
of underpinning knowledge and are likely to include a number of “what if ....?”


When learners are involved in simulations they will need feedback for two main

   to know if they have performed to the required standard

   to ensure they are able to transfer the experience of the simulation into a real-life

The trust that builds up between an assessor and a learner is an important feature of
the relationship.

Work-based projects

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Work-based projects are a useful way for you to collect evidence to support
any decision you make about a learners performance. They are particularly
appropriate in determining the level of a learners underpinning knowledge and
understanding where it may be insufficient to rely only on questioning or

A project often involves the identification of and solution to a specific problem
identified by you and/or the learner (such as looking at ways to redress a
recent drop in sales), or may be a structured programme of work built around
a central situation or idea (such as the introduction of a new job rostering

The content of a project and the evidence it can contribute to your
assessment decision will vary according to the element or performance
criteria being considered.

The validity of the evidence relies on you and the learner agreeing the aim
and the content of the project during its planning phase, bearing in mind how
the content will fit in with the learners normal workload.

Learner’s Role

The learner’s role is to ensure that the project content provides the assessor
with sufficient evidence to support a decision of competence which accurately
reflects his/her current knowledge and has real value in the workplace.

Assessors Role

The assessor has a key role in ensuring that the project is very real and
relevant to the learner and will provide the type of evidence needed to help an
assessment decision.

You must also be readily available to the learner, providing guidance and
feedback, indicating sources of information and motivating the learner

Briefings given to the learner must be clear, concise and unambiguous,
leaving no doubt about the evidence being sought.

You need to consider how you will brief the learner - in a written format,
verbally, or both.

During the project you will need to monitor the learner ensuring the validity
and authenticity of the material being collected. It is very useful to organise
regular review meetings to keep an eye on the content, determining on an on-
going basis how much more evidence is required to recognise competence.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

A project encourages learners to actively seek out information to support their
workplace competence, and offers them a framework for presenting that

This method takes account of the different ways learners respond to
assessment and gives you an opportunity to make each project highly
individual, effectively managing the collection of evidence from a range of
sources and learners.

Projects can also help you pinpoint an individuals competence where work
output is very team-oriented.

On the negative side, if not carefully designed, projects may take the learner
away from his/her work, placing more emphasis on the need for you to
question thoroughly before you are able to decide how the evidence can be
translated into workplace performance.

A work-based project should help the assessment process, not create more
work for you.

Design of Projects

When using this method for collecting evidence it is possible the content could

   relate directly to a learners immediate work situation, or

   closely resemble a learners work requirements, and reflect a situation
    he/she can readily recognise.

Whichever situation is used, you must consider both the learner and the
element or performance criteria to be assessed and design the content of the
project to produce the evidence you need.

The overall design of a project should follow the same format by having:

   an aim ie what is to be produced at the end

   clear guidance about the underpinning knowledge and areas of work being

   a logical structure, showing a build-up of tasks to help the learner produce
    the required end result.

It is also necessary to consider whether a time limit is appropriate, but this will
obviously depend on the project content and the learner completing the work.

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As well as being relevant, projects need to be:

   straightforward and simple for the learner to understand

   relatively easy and cost effective for the learner to research

   flexible enough to encourage individuality

   motivating enough for the learner to want to be involved.

A measure of a well-planned project is the contribution it makes to a learners
improved competence in the workplace.

Collecting Evidence

When planning a project you will have agreed with the learner what evidence
is sought and how you will be assessing it.

It is likely that you will be able to make some judgement based on the end
product, but you may need to gather more information through questioning.

It is helpful to ensure that the learner includes a reference to the unit(s) being
assessed (perhaps in the form of an introduction) so in the future the
assignment can be included in a portfolio of evidence. This would also leave
no doubt about the evidence being assessed.

Case Studies

In situations where it is difficult for workplace assessment to take place, case
studies can offer the learner an opportunity to demonstrate potential

A case study is a description of an actual or imaginary situation presented in
some detail. The way the case study is presented will vary depending upon
the learner, but the most usual methods are written, taped or filmed.

Learner’s Role

By taking part in the case study the learner is required to offer ideas and
suggestions as to how he/she would deal with the given situation, or solve a
particular problem.

Once presented with the case study, it is usual for the learner to be given a
period of time in which to assimilate the information, clarify any points of
uncertainty and produce the required evidence in a pre-determined format.

To be useful as a method of assessment it is important that the learner is able
to relate the underpinning knowledge required in the case study to his/her
performance at work.

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Assessor’s Role

Your role is to ensure that the case study provides you with evidence to
support your assessment of the learners competence. The clarity of the
briefing at the start of the case study coupled with regular progress reviews
with the learner to ensure he/she is on the right track are an essential part of
the process.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The main advantages of a case study are in the amount of evidence of
underpinning knowledge they are able to generate and the specificity of
evidence the learner can produce.

Disadvantages centre around the time sometimes involved in planning and
reviewing case studies, and a possible resistance on the part of the learner if
he/she is unable to see the relevance of the case study content.

Design of Case Studies

With all simulations it is important to consider some design features.

Case studies work best if they:

   reflect first-hand experience (preferably the learners or the organisations)

   give sufficient detail to show the situation rather than tell the learner the
    likely outcome

   present information in a logical and organised way

   identify formal and informal relationships within the situation

   present facts and do not interpret feelings

   are brief and to the point.

Collecting Evidence

When planning a case study it is important to consider the way in which you
want the learner to present his/her comments on the problem. It is also a
good idea to discuss and agree with the learner how he/she feels the results
could be presented.

Most case studies require a written response to the material, which, when
backed with questioning will help you towards an assessment decision.

Case studies are particularly useful in helping to determine how a learner may
perform in relatively complex situations involving a number of interactions (eg

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disciplinary decisions and interviews) and will often give you an insight into
the learners approach to a problem as well as his/her depth of knowledge.

Role Plays

When collecting evidence about a learners competence at work it may be
necessary to fill an assessment gap, that is, to look for supplementary
evidence to support a competence decision.

This may be necessary if the range specified includes a situation in which the
learner is unlikely to find himself/herself, or where the learner needs to
develop competence, for example in a disciplinary situation, before being
judged competent.

Role-plays are simulations where the learner is asked to act out a situation in
the way he/she considers ‘real’ people would behave.

By using role-play situations to assess a learner you are able to collect
evidence and make a judgement about how the learner is most likely to

Strengths and Weaknesses

Role-play has a number of benefits to both you and the learner:

   in on-going workplace assessment it can help build a learners confidence
    and competence in dealing with interactions with others

   it gives learners an opportunity to see the effect of different behaviours in
    different situations

   it can bring theory to life, linking underpinning knowledge to actual
    workplace performance, particularly when dealing with the units and
    elements related to interpersonal skills.

There are, of course, also some weaknesses, in that learners may feel
uncomfortable or ill at ease taking part in a role-play. Preparation and briefing
can take some time and may detract from the purpose of the role-play. It is
also difficult to ensure that you gather only evidence of actual performance
rather than the evidence you perceive will be generated through the

Design of Role-Plays

Role-plays can take place in almost any setting as generally, no specific
physical arrangement or special equipment is needed.

There are two types of role-play which could be used for assessment

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   structured

   spontaneous

In a structured role-play you will have determined the situation, written a brief
(or briefs) for the learner, determined the role being played and have an idea
of the likely outcome. In a spontaneous role-play you are relying on a
situation or problem becoming apparent during a discussion with the learner
and being able to develop a role-play situation from it.

In both cases, the design of the role-play must reflect the elements or
performance criteria being assessed, be relevant to the learner and be a
manageable method of evidence collection.

It is also important to ensure that the learner is able to identify the contribution
he/she can make during the role-play to demonstrate the competence being
assessed, and that feedback reflects what was actually observed, ie is
objective and does not reflect what you think should have happened.

Collecting Evidence

The design and content of the role-play to some extent will dictate how the
evidence is best collected. It is probable that during the feedback phase it will
be necessary to question the learner to assess his/her understanding of the
situation presented in the role-play.

It will also be possible to observe learner performance during the role-play
and reach a decision based on those observations.

It is often a good idea when planning a role play to note the stages at which
you expect to see evidence of competence during the re-enactment, in case
you get carried away with the scene!

If using structured briefs for the role-play they will provide evidence for the
verification process and should be kept with other records made during


Prior learning or achievement is simply that which has occurred in the past.
By taking account of a learners track record of relevant learning and
achievement it is possible to credit him/her with NVQ/SVQ units or elements.

Accrediting prior learning is ‘giving people recognition for what they already
know and can do’.

It is often difficult to put a value on what a learner has done in the past, as
traditionally we have seen achievement in the form of qualifications or tests.
The work-based competence approach required you to make a judgement

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about how likely the learner would be able to perform against the standards

Learners will often have evidence which relates to previous learning
experiences, but it is the achievement gained from them, rather than the
learning experiences themselves which you need to assess.

You must, therefore, be able to clearly distinguish between the evidence the
learner has which relates to courses attended, qualifications gained, and the
evidence demonstrating the application of what he/she learned into a
workplace setting.

You must also be able to help the learner distinguish between these different
types of evidence, as you will see later. When a learner wishes to have
his/her past experience accredited he/she will need support in identifying the
relevant evidence before assessment. This support can be provided by an
APL advisor.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are a number of advantages of APL to consider.

For the learner:

   it provides a real opportunity to gain recognition for the experience he/she
    has without having to attend courses to re-learn what he/she already
    knows for the award of a qualification

   it helps reduce the time in which a learner can achieve a qualification

   it helps identify gaps in a learners competence, giving scope for
    recognising development needs for his/her future careers.

For the APL advisor and the assessor:

   by working with the learner to identify units or elements which may be
    credited, it helps clarify future assessment needs and development

   it gives an opportunity to work closely with a learner building a relationship
    of trust and support

   once evidence required is agreed with the learner the responsibility then
    rests with the learner to produce it in a pre-determined format, with help
    and support where necessary

   it helps motivate the learner to achieve credits by building on current

There are also some disadvantages:

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   the initial diagnostic assessment with the learner may require a significant
    amount of time, identifying the validity and relevance of potential evidence

   it may be difficult to discriminate between different pieces of evidence

   it will be necessary to carry out some workplace assessment through
    observation, questioning, or by simulating a work activity, to validate the
    evidence being presented

   APL is not so obviously appropriate for assessing at levels 1 and 2, where
    the time required to collect evidence may be a deciding factor.

It is important to remember that APL requires significant commitment by the
learner; it is not something that can be done for them. Of course the learner
will need support, but the success of the process depends upon the learner
being committed and able to gather sufficient evidence of his/her past
experience to support any credits towards an award.

APL is not an easy option, but it can be quicker than some traditional routes to
qualifications, and in many cases can be much more relevant to the learner
and the situation.

APL reflects some of the key features of NVQs/SVQs in that it:

   is independent of any learning activity

   emphasises the learners ability to do the job

   encourages credit accumulation.

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