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In Competency Based Assessment, which is the key theme of the units TAEASS512 and TAEASS502 Design and develop assessment tools, you will come across terms like assessment method, assessment instrument, assessment plan and assessment tool.

What do they mean?

Let’s explore the meaning of these four common terms to get clear on their definitions:

  • What’s an assessment method?
  • What’s an assessment instrument?
  • What’s an assessment plan?
  • What’s an assessment tool?

What is an Assessment Method?

You can almost never assess a unit of competency with just 1 assessment method.

To find out if someone is competent, you typically need to use a number of assessment methods to arrive at that decision (e.g., observation, questioning, setting an assignment, asking a third party).

It’s the combination of these methods which make the process reliable, valid and consistent. Multiple methods give an assessor more evidence. And more evidence makes it easier to determine if their students are competent or not.

What is an Assessment Instrument?

Imagine you were building a table but you had no tape-measure or pencil. You’d have to guess how long to cut the timber. You’d end up with something wonky with 4 different lengthed legs.

Using an assessment method without an instrument, is like building without a measuring device.

The following things are each an example of a single ‘assessment instrument’ that might be used while carrying out various assessment methods:

  • An observation checklist
  • A set of instructions for setting up a role play
  • A set of test questions (or ‘exam paper’)
  • An answer guide or marking guide
  • An assignment
  • A third party report checklist

Each of those things are examples of a single assessment instrument. They help the assessor ‘measure’ performance, quality, knowledge. They also help set up each assessment consistently and reliably (e.g. instructions).

Therefore, to assess a whole unit, you will typically need to create several instruments.

What is an Assessment Plan

The plan is basically a way of planning out what methods you’ll use to assess a unit, and what instruments will be needed to ‘measure’ the evidence that gets gathered during those methods.

What is an Assessment Tool

This is the name given to the ‘collection’ of assessment instruments + the assessment plan.

It’s the ‘package deal.’

So when you’re asked to create an assessment tool, you’re not being asked to create something different to an assessment instrument or plan. You’re being asked to create a bunch of assessment instruments, and the plan, all bundled together. Assessors will use that ‘bundle of assessment instruments’ to assess people against a unit of competency.

Are RPL Assessment Tools different?

RPL assessment is not really different to any other competency assessment.

You use instruments to measure evidence gathered using methods according to a plan.

It’s just that you’re more likely to use methods such as portfolio, workplace observation, third party, and interview.

You are less likely to use roleplays, activities and assignments in RPL assessments, like you would with students in a class.