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1.Briefly explain how Vocational Education Training is considered a competency-based system.

2.How does competency-based assessment differ from other types of assessments?

3.Briefly explain how the competency standards are used as the basis of qualifications.

4.Consider the following components that make up the structure of a unit of competency.

Discuss the information found in each component and explain how this information is applied in a competency-based assessment.

Guidance: an example has been provided for your reference.

Components of a unit of competency Information found in this component How this information is applied in competency-based assessment activities and processes

Describesthe purpose of the unit relevant to how it will be applied in the workplace.

5.Consider a candidate completing the requirements for TAEASS502.

What is the minimum evidence that the candidate must provide to demonstrate his/her ability to complete the tasks outlined in the elements and performance criteria of the unit?

  1. How do you determine the minimum standard for assessment the student must meet to demonstrate his/her competency?
  2. There are several ways to answer this question; however, your answer must be consistent with the competency standards of the unit.

The features of a competency-based assessment system


Assessment is a difficult process – we understand this and have developed a range of assessment kits, such as this, to facilitate a seamless process for both the assessor and the learner being assessed.

There are a number of characteristics of assessment, ranging from subjective assessment (which is based on opinions and feelings), to objective assessment (which is based clearly on defined processes and specific standards). Nearly all assessment involves a mixture of both types of assessment because it is almost impossible to eradicate the subjectivity humans carry into the process of assessing. The goal in developing and implementing these assessment kits is to work towards the objective end as far as possible and to reduce the degree of opinions and feelings present.

What is competency based assessment

The features of a competency based assessment system are:

  • It is focused on what learners can do and whether it meets the criteria specified by industry as competency standards.
  • Assessment should mirror the environment the learner will encounter in the workplace.
  • Assessment criteria should be clearly stated to the learner at the beginning of the learning process.
  • Assessment should be holistic. That is it aims to assess as many elements and/or units of competency as is feasible at one time.
  • In competency assessment a learner receives one of only two outcomes – competent or not yet competent.
  • The basis of assessment is in applying knowledge for some purpose. In a competency system, knowledge for the sake of knowledge is seen to be ineffectual unless it assists a person to perform a task to the level required in the workplace.
  • The emphasis in assessment is on assessable outcomes that are clearly stated for the trainer and learner. Assessable outcomes are tied to the relevant industry competency standards where these exist. Where such competencies do not exist, the outcomes are based upon those identified in a training needs analysis.

Definition of competency

Assessment in this context can be defined as:

  • The fair, valid, reliable and flexible gathering and recording of evidence to support judgement on whether competence has been achieved. Skills and knowledge (developed either in a structured learning situation, at work, or in some other context) are assessed against national standards of competence required by industry, rather than compared with the skills and knowledge of other learners.

The Basic Principles of Assessing Nationally Recognised Training

Developing and conducting assessment, in an Australian vocational education and training context, is founded on a number of basic conventions:

The principles of assessment

  • Fairness
  • The individual’s learner’s needs are considered in the assessment process.
  • Where appropriate, reasonable adjustments are applied by the RTO to take into account the individual learner’s needs.
  • The RTO informs the learner about the assessment process, and provides the leaner with the opportunity to challenge the result of the assessment and be reassessed if necessary.
  • Flexibility
    • Assessment is flexible to the individual learner by:
      • reflecting the learner’s needs;
      • assessing competencies held by the learner no matter how or where they have been acquired; and
      • drawing from a range of assessment methods and using those that are appropriate to the context, the unit of competency and associated assessment requirements, and the individual.
  • Validity
  • Any assessment decision of the RTO is justified, based on the evidence of performance of the individual learner.
  • Validity requires:
  • assessment against the unit/s of competency and the associated assessment requirements covers the broad range of skills and knowledge that are essential to competent performance;
  • assessment of knowledge and skills is integrated with their practical application;
  • assessment to be based on evidence that demonstrates that a learner could demonstrate these skills and knowledge in other similar situations; and 
  • judgement of competence is based on evidence of learner performance that is aligned to the unit/s of competency and associated assessment requirements.
  • Reliability
  • Evidence presented for assessment is consistently interpreted and assessment results are comparable irrespective of the assessor conducting the assessment.

(fromStandards for RTOs 2015, Table 1.8-1: Principles of Assessment)

The rules of evidence

When collecting evidence there are certain rules that apply to that evidence. All evidence must be valid, sufficient, authentic and current;

  • Valid
    • The assessor is assured that the learner has the skills, knowledge and attributes as described in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements.
  • Sufficient
    • The assessor is assured that the quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence enables a judgement to be made of a learner’s competency.
  • Authentic
  • The assessor is assured that the evidence presented for assessment is the learner’s own work.
  • Current
  • The assessors is assured that the assessment evidence demonstrates current competency. This requires the assessment evidence to be from the present or the very recent past.

(fromStandards for RTOs 2015, Table 1.8-2: Rules of Evidence)

The Dimensions of Competency

The national concept of competency includes all aspects of work performance, and not only narrow task skills. The four dimensions of competency are:

  • Task skills
  • Task management skills
  • Contingency management skills
  • Job role and environment skills

Reasonable Adjustment

Adapted Reasonable Adjustment in teaching, learning and assessment for learners with a disability - November 2010 - Prepared by - Queensland VET Development Centre

Reasonable adjustment in VET is the term applied to modifying the learning environment or making changes to the training delivered to assist a learner with a disability. A reasonable adjustment can be as simple as changing classrooms to be closer to amenities, or installing a particular type of software on a computer for a person with vision impairment.

Why make a reasonable adjustment?

We make reasonable adjustments in VET to make sure that learners with a disability have:

  • the same learning opportunities as learners without a disability
  • the same opportunity to perform and complete assessments as those without a disability.

Reasonable adjustment applied to participation in teaching, learning and assessment activities can include:

  • customising resources and assessment activities within the training package or accredited course
  • modifying the presentation medium learner support
  • use of assistive / adaptive technologies
  • making information accessible both prior to enrolment and during the course
  • monitoring the adjustments to ensure learner needs continue to be met.

Assistive / Adaptive Technologies

Assistive / adaptive technology means ‘software or hardware that has been specifically designed to assist people with disabilities in carrying out daily activities’ (World Wide Web Consortium - W3C). It includes screen readers, magnifiers, voice recognition software, alternative keyboards, devices for grasping, visual alert systems, digital note takers.


Reasonable adjustment made for collecting candidate assessment evidence must not impact on the standard expected by the workplace, as expressed by the relevant Unit(s) of Competency. E.g. If the assessment was gathering evidence of the candidates competency in writing, allowing the candidate to complete the assessment verbally would not be a valid assessment method. The method of assessment used by any reasonable adjustment must still meet the competency requirements.

The Units of Competency

The units of competency specify the standards of performance required in the workplace.

This assessment addresses the following units of competency from TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment:

TAEASS401 Plan assessment activities and processes

  1. Determine the assessment approach
  2. Prepare the assessment plan
  3. Develop the assessment instruments

TAEASS403Participate in assessment validation

  1. Prepare for validation
  2. Contribute to the validation process
  3. Contribute to validation outcomes

TAEASS502Design and develop assessment tools

  1. Determine the focus of the assessment tool
  2. Design the assessment tool
  3. Develop the assessment tool
  4. Review and trial the assessment tool

This subject also partially addresses the requirements of:

TAEASS402Assess competence

  1. Prepare for the assessment
  2. Gather quality evidence
  3. Support the candidate
  4. Make the assessment decision
  5. Record and report the assessment decision
  6. Review the assessment process

TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills

  1. Analyse LLN requirements.
  2. Select and use resources and strategies to address LLN skill requirements.
  3. Use specialist support where required.
  4. Evaluate effectiveness of learning support and assessment strategies in addressing LLN requirements.

Context for Assessment

Gather evidence to demonstrate consistent performance in conditions that are safe and replicate the workplace. Conditions must be typical of those experienced in the training and assessment environment, and include access to competency standards or accredited courses relevant to the learning programs.

Assessment Requirements

The assessment requirements specify the evidence and required conditions for assessment.

Each unit of competency can be unbundled to reveal four(4) key assessment components:

  1. Performance Evidence
  • describes the subtasks that make up the element of the unit
  1. Knowledge Evidence
  • describes the knowledge that must be applied in understanding the tasks described in the elements
  1. Assessment Conditions
  • describe the environment and conditions that assessments must be conducted under
  1. Performance Criteria
  • describes the performance required in tasks, as well as foundational skills, to demonstrate achievement of the outcomes outlined in the elements

The associated assessment methods in this workbook covers all of these components as detailed in the matrix below:

Units of Competency

Assessment Activities






Knowledge assessment





Projects/Case Studies





Assessment Methods

There are four (4) workbooks in this course. Three (3) of which are the Assessment Workbooks and one (1) is the Skills Workbook. This is Assessment Workbook 3.

Assessment Workbook

The Assessment Workbooks use the following assessment methods:

  1. Knowledge Assessment - Written assessments to test students’ understanding of underpinning knowledge, concepts and/or theories relevant to the units of competency included in this subject
  2. Projects/Case Studies - A task or activity completed according to set instructions and guidelines to meet the requirements of the relevant units

The Assessment Workbooks in this course are as follows:

Workbook 1 – Design Cluster

Workbook 2 – Delivery Cluster

Workbook 3 – Assessment Cluster

The Skills Workbook contains the practical assessment which covers the following units of competency in TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment:

  • TAEASS402 Assess Competence
  • TAELLN411 Address Adult Language, Literacy, and Numeracy Skills

These practical assessment activities will be completed during your Vocational Placement or in your workplace, once you have received approval from the Vocational Placement Coordinator.

You should not commence with the Skills Workbook until you have successfully completed the three (3) assessment workbooks and have received feedback from your assessor.

The assessment method used in the Skills Workbook includes:

  1. Practical Assessment– A practical assessment containing instructions and activities that must be completed by the candidate in a real workplace to demonstrate the skills relevant to the units of competency included in this subject.

The skills workbook in this course is:

Assessment Cluster Skills Workboo

Resources Required for Assessment

Assessor to provide:

  • Case studies and simulations
  • Information about work activities, as necessary
  • Computer with internet and email access and a working web browser.
  • Installed software: MS Word, MS Excel, Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Two (2) volunteers to review assessment tool you will develop in Project 1 Case Study 1. Ideally, the volunteers should be industry experts, VET trainers, and or assessors.
  • Two (2) volunteers to trial the assessment tool you will develop in Project 1 Case Study 1.
  • Templates needed to complete the assessment. These are already provided in this workbook.
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