Context > Professional, vocational and employment related

The possible work roles of the graduate can strongly influence assessment. Graduates can be clearly identified as aspiring to a specific vocation (e.g. nursing, law, engineering, teaching) or may simply be potential members of a generalist workforce. Educators and learners alike often seek to develop skills which will be of benefit to their future employment. In some instances, this is prescribed by formal documentation. At other times, and more frequently, educators draw from their own and industry colleagues’ professional experiences and beliefs. Sometimes particular professions have forms of assessment which have meaning exclusive to that profession. These ‘signature assessments’ may be important for learners to know, in and of themselves (e.g. the legal moot, the medical case presentation, the designer portfolio). Sometimes there are demands to work across disciplines or interprofessionally and this can challenge assessment processes.

Assessment provides the opportunity to locate learning within the ‘real world’ of employment. It can do this in several ways: 1) Provision of an assessment task which develops particular skills, such as clinical skills, journalism techniques or laboratory methods; 2) Provision of an assessment task set in a specific context, such as building a specific bridge, or doing an environmental assessment of a particular river system, or simulating a hospital ward; and 3) Assessment of workplace performance, through placements or internships. This latter category can present real challenges as sometimes educators must rely on industry colleagues to supply judgements on learners, however, the benefits are that the learner is immersed in real practice and can develop the skills desired in a professional capacity.

Assessment considerations:

  • What do learners need to be able to do in practice in the industry/profession?
  • Are there any tasks which will mirror future professional assessment activities?
  • Can you collaborate with business, industry, government or community groups to identify: a) necessary skills; b) projects that could be packaged as authentic assessments; or c) work-based opportunities for assessment?
  • How will you motivate learners and provide them with the requisite skills to complete the assessment?
  • What does the learner need to be able to do or know about the assessment format (e.g. how to participate in role-plays, how to format portfolios, public speaking)?
  • What logistics and resources are required to support each stage of the task (e.g. simulators, materials, permissions to access work locations)?
  • How will you manage any work-based assessment processes and procedures?
  • What types of cross-program assessment might be appropriate for your learners?

Also refer to:

Outcomes > Professional requirements

Tasks > Activities which drive learning

Interactions > Resistance or engagement

Educator experiences

Laboratory-based practical

Laboratory practicals have traditionally involved students following recipe-based workbooks in order to validate processes. But we’ve tried to get away from recipe-based practice. Although we still use recipes for teaching students how to learn to use equipment as appropriate, we’ve tried to give students opportunities to do real science. It’s not one size fits all, but it gives students the opportunity to actually think about what they’re doing, to solve problems and employ critical thinking. There’s no set of ideal answers so students often end up with different data than you might expect. But that’s science. – Science lecturer

Role-play and video review

They used to write a patient case assessment but that’s one of the things I’ve changed to incorporate video-based assessment. Now, they actually video their management of that patient. So they’ll have a mock patient, they’ll have themselves as therapist, and they may have somebody else as a potential family member, whatever scenario they’ve described. They’ll then act out for 10 minutes in the video. So, it’s been changed to try to make it a little bit less paper-based, and a little bit more what we feel is an authentic clinical interaction. They need to try to align their practice with best evidence. Whenever you put something in video, it’s a very powerful way for them to see an external viewpoint of performance. They can see what they look like and hopefully that, together with the prompts and the feedback that they receive for the assignment, will help facilitate their change, development. – Health professions lecturer

Site visits

In the first assessment that they’re doing, students actually go and visit and interact with a play space or space that has been specifically designed for children to engage in. And to actually get out there and engage and see what we have to offer here in this city as well. So they take field notes about it and take photos of the space, and write little notes what children might say or how they explore it. And then from that, they write a critical review of the space with engagement with literature, on young children’s play spaces, on Early Childhood Education. And from that base, they then design a classroom space. They then have to justify each choice that they make with engagement with the literature. ‘Cause I see there is a lot of academic work, we’re sitting in front of books; we’re not connecting to the real world. – Education lecturer