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ASQA’s Changes Assessment Method Definitions

ASQA recently updated its document “Guide to assessment tools” Version 0.1, September 2021) located at www.asqa.gov.au/resources/guides/guide-developing-assessment-tools. Of note is that the ‘Portfolio of Documents’ method has been deleted, and the ‘Observation’ assessment method is now restricted to live and interactive candidate observations by the assessor. Noting that many students are now undertaking studies via distance and online, this might imply that recorded video submissions may not be used as the basis to observe, say, foundation skills. Alternatively, in this scenario, can recorded video be considered acceptable as a product assessment method, noting that the ASQA guide’s definition of ‘product-based methods’ includes role-plays and presentations?

Other issues of note are that this updated document continues to omit foundation skills (e.g., oral communications, working with others, etc.) as an assessable item in the table on pp. 2-3.  However, it is widely understood within the sector, and as evidenced by ASQA’s auditor conduct at audits, that foundation skills remain an assessable component of units. As such, why are foundation skills omitted from this table?

Lastly, it is widely accepted that foundation skills such as ‘oral communications’ and ‘interact with others’ may only be assessed by observation. Thus, does this recent change to ASQA’s definition of the observation assessment method mean that distance learning students can only be assessed by a live and interactive assessment method, and a video recording of the candidate demonstrating these skills would not be considered valid evidence by ASQA?

ASQA’S Response to our Assessment Method Definitions queries:

We asked ASQA these questions, who responded in December 2021: “Foundation skills are implicit in a unit’s performance criteria meaning competency cannot be achieved without demonstration of the embedded foundation skills. Providers should have a process in place that allows them to be confident that their assessment tools are fit for purpose and will generate assessment evidence which encompasses the performance of foundation skills.

Recordings (documents, photographs, videos or logbooks) are evidence which can be considered using ‘product’ assessment methodology, as they don’t allow the assessor and student to interact in real-time. However, and to link back to my answer to your first question, as foundation skills are implicit, there is no requirement that they be assessed only by direct observation – as stated above, foundation skills are implicitly involved in competent performance – no matter the assessment methodology used, competent performance of the tasks, skills, and knowledge described by the unit will necessitate demonstration of foundation skills to the required level.”