Observational assessment is often deemed the most appropriate method of assessment for practical skills; by watching someone complete a set task, they can demonstrate their competence by performance.
This takes me back to drama class during my high school days where a key requirement for passing the course was to take part in a short play. The drama teacher would act as the “assessor” and mark your performance using a rather basic form of observational assessment.
Times have changed and now we see a more developed approached to this style of assessment.
So what are the benefits of using this type of appraisal system within a modern day workplace?
Advantages of Observational Assessment
1. Reliable Data
As the assessor is actively watching and recording the actions of the subject during an observational assessment, the results can be deemed to be more reliable.
2. Direct Practice of an Action
With the physical demonstration of the desired task, the candidate is immediately immersed in the actual work helping them to understand the employers requirements. It also helps the employer identify any skills gaps which need to be addressed.
3. Immediate Results
As the assessment takes place in real time with the assessor overtly involved in the process, results are available immediately. So employees don’t have what seem like an endless wait for examination results.
4. Can Take Place in the Workplace
Unlike some assessment techniques, observational assessment can take place within the workplace itself. This can help alleviate fears of an unknown environment which can add to the employee apprehension. It also benefits the employer who do not have additional travel costs to the relevant assessment centres.
5. Ideal for marking project work where team activities are undertaken.
The marking of integrated projects or end tests has typically been a difficult area and have not been part of any online assessment. Observational assessment can easily allow assessors to mark multiple students / employees who are working on group tasks at the same time giving a truer comparison that marking subjectively after the event.
Key Assessment Conditions
As with all assessments there are certain exam conditions that must be adhered to in order to ensure fairness. These can be said to be even more important when dealing with overt assessment.
Clear Planning is Required
As with all assessment, clear planning and preparation is required before the examination, this is even more crucial for observational assessment. Writing the statements in the observation checklist takes time, and also assigning a marking scheme to the statements needs to be thought through.
It is also imperative that the employee fully understands what is expected of them during the process.
As far as possible interruptions should be limited during the examination process from simple things such as ensuring mobile phones are on silent through to putting up any necessary signage.
Exact Replication of Examination Conditions
It is essential that each employee experiences the same examinations conditions. This can be a challenge and should be a major consideration in the planning stages.
Confidence in Technology
If you are collecting results via an online platform then you must have confidence in the system. Even a single system issue can cause a lack of trust of the assessment as whole by both the assessor and the employee.
Allowances Given Due to the Style of Assessment
Some people are more comfortable with observational assessment than others so consideration needs to be given to those who are not – for some candidates having their every move assessed can cause involuntary physical reactions such as shaking which can have a direct impact in their ability to complete the task.
Resit Should Be Offered
It should therefore be made clear to the candidate prior to the examination that they do have an options for any resits on offer, this may be all or part of the assessment.
Using our eNetAssess system eCom Scotland worked with SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board) to develop a technology solution that enables assessors to record observations on hand held devices in the workshop as the apprentices are working through the scenarios. Read more about our work here.
Call eCom now on 01383 630032 to discuss how online observational assessment could help your organisation.