The extensive and detailed work of Rüschoff (2022) “Methods of competence assessment in vocational education and training (VET) in Germany” offers an overview of the methods and instruments currently developed in vocational education and training in Germany. In its overall conclusion, the referred work states that “The acquisition of vocational competence as the primary goal of vocational education and training has been increasingly emphasized in recent years, both in policy and research. However, this competence orientation implies the availability of valid procedures to assess whether trainees have obtained the competencies targeted in their training”,
The complexity and relevance of the assessment requires more than a section in a guidelines, but some important elements can be highlighted to focus our attention in the evaluation process:
3.5.1. COMPETENCE-BASED ASSESSMENT
Stakeholders highlight the tension they find when evaluating both the results of theoretical or disciplinary learning and those related to the learning of soft skills.
As mentioned in section 4.2.1, it’s important to have in mind that practices should be designed based on competencies, and the assessment is part of this process.
If we are aware of this pedagogical point of view, then tension disappears.
“For competence based learning to succeed, it is necessary to use different kinds of assessments in which learners are not tested solely on their remembering of knowledge, but more on their ability to interpret, analyze and evaluate problems and explain their arguments.” (Sluijsmans, Straetmans and van Merriënboer 2008)
The assessment should be designed to evaluate theoretical learning outcomes and also its practice performance, individually and in teamworks.
There are many ways to assess theoretical knowledge that can be easily adapted to online teaching and learning, and applied by digital technologies, such as multiple choice tests or writing exams.
Rubrics are good instruments to evaluate soft skills, and can be managed online and allow asynchronous communication as well. Formative assessment with reflective feedback can help to achieve an evaluation process based on competence.
- The analyzed practice integrates assessment as part of competence based learning.
3.5.2. FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: 360º FEEDBACK
E-assessment (see for example Guerrero-Roldán and Noguera, 2018) with these or similar instruments are designed to generate a mark, which are usually a mandatory assessment condition in VET.
But also, for the educational process we need to generate space and time for formative assessment, feedback and continuous improvement involving all the participants.
“While many educators are highly focused on state tests, it is important to consider that over the course of a year, teachers can build in many opportunities to assess how students are learning and then use this information to make beneficial changes in instruction. This diagnostic use of assessment to provide feedback to teachers and students over the course of instruction is called formative assessment” (Boston, 2002).
There are different strategies for providing feedback to students or between them. Continuous feedback is a key element to ensure the formative assessment. You can find more information about formative assessment and feedback in, for example:
We can find most of the feedback characteristics in the participant argument as well:
How students analyse, discuss and act on feedback is as important as the quality of the feedback itself. Through the interaction students have with feedback, they come to understand how to develop their learning. This definition marks an important shift in thinking about feedback not in terms more of a process, a conversation, a dialogue between staff (entrepreneurs also) empland students. This means that feedback does not necessarily have to come from the teacher but can be generated by their peers and also by themselves through self assessment which guides students to become independent and self-reflective learners, and better critics of their own work, stimulate reflection, interaction and dialogue about learning improvement. Furthermore, feedback must be given to VET centers in order to follow up the content of the course, ensure the mentor (entrepreneur) is competent to formulate adequate tasks for the development of student’s both professional and personal competences. (PANKO Teacher)
- The analyzed practice includes 360º feedback as an element of formative assessment.
3.5.3. PLANIFICATION AND TRANSPARENCY
“In any educational modality, the conceptualization, design and planning of the course are of paramount importance. In an asynchronous virtual environment these elements demand more attention at this preliminary point of the teaching action, considering the impact they have on the learning objectives, the tasks to be carried out, the contents to be developed, the learning resources to be consulted, and the interaction and evaluation criteria” (Guitert and Romeu, 2020).
Closely linked to the Competence-based assessment and Formative assessment, it is also important that assessment strategies, conditions, moments, participants, criteria and instruments are clear from the start. The transparency of the assessment plan and its requirements adds substantial aspects to the educational process such as mutual confidence, awareness development, motivation or implication.
- Assessment elements are planned and known by all the people involved in the training process.