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Learnerships: What is Formative and Summative Assessment?

Learnership assessment is achieved through formative and summative activities. This post introduces learners to assessments for learnerships. This post helps learners identify the evidence expectations to complete and structure their Portfolio of Evidence.

What is Formative and Summative Assessment?

Formative and summative assessments are two types of assessment used in outcomes-based education and training (OBET), particularly learnerships and apprenticeships.

The OBET Formative and Summative Assessment Process

Outcomes-based education and training use formative and summative assessments:

  • Formative assessment: think of the word ‘information‘ – it refers to assessment that takes place throughout the process of learning and teaching to provide ongoing information about learner progress.
  • Summative assessment is an assessment for making a sum (total) judgement about achievement. This is completed once learners are ready to be assessed at the end of a learning programme. Formative evidence will provide information for a summative judgement – so everything you do counts!

Only SETA-accredited assessors may conduct assessments on the qualifications they are certified for. Training providers and learners must check the assessor’s credentials prior to them conducting the assessment.

A combination of formative and summative assessments is used to develop evidence to meet or exceed the qualification unit standard requirements. Learners must obtain the training providers’ assessment policy in order to ensure they understand the process and their rights. The assessment policy will show how the provider deals with assessment disputes raised by learners.

Special note: assessment has already changed in some sectors and will continue to change until all sectors are in the new system. The new system requires that summative assessments are completed at external assessment centres accredited by the QCTO.

A little background on assessment terms: Formative and Summative

The terms “formative” and “summative” assessments are used in the field of education and are thought to have originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The terms were first used to describe different types of evaluations and assessments used in schools and universities.

These terms have since become widely used in education and are now commonly used to describe different types of assessments used in schools, universities, and our favourite – learnerships.

Formative and Summative Assessment Differences

Formative assessments are ongoing assessments that are used to evaluate learning and development as it occurs. They provide ongoing feedback to learners and help to guide future learning and instruction. Formative assessments are not used to determine a final grade or certification, but rather to help learners improve their understanding and skills.

The term “formative” comes from the Latin word “formare,” which means to shape or form. In the context of education, formative assessments are used to shape or form a student’s understanding and skills by providing ongoing feedback and guiding instruction.

Summative assessments, on the other hand, are used to evaluate learning and development at the end of a course or program. They are used to determine a final grade or certification and are typically more comprehensive than formative assessments. Summative assessments are used to determine what a learner knows and can do at a particular point in time.

The term “summative” comes from the Latin word “summa,” which means the highest point or total. In education, summative assessments are used to evaluate a student’s learning and determine a final grade or certification, reflecting the total of their learning and achievements at a particular point in time.

The Learnership Portfolio of Evidence

The role of a portfolio of evidence in learnerships is to provide a comprehensive record of a learner’s progress and achievements. It includes a collection of evidence, such as assessments, projects, and other relevant documents, that demonstrate the learner’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. The portfolio of evidence is used as a tool for formative assessment and is regularly reviewed by the learner’s coach or mentor to track progress and provide feedback.

The Formative and Summative activities create the Portfolio of Evidence (PoE). The completed PoE is often at least two lever arch files containing Formative, Summative and workplace evidence. Learnership programmes often place all formative activities in a Learner Workbook and the summative assessment activities are contained in the Portfolio of Evidence Guide. The PoE will contain both these guides and any additional learner-generated evidence.

In summary, formative and summative assessments are used to evaluate learning and development, while a portfolio of evidence provides a comprehensive record of a learner’s achievements and progress. The POE organises all formative and summative assessments in order to justify why they should receive the qualification.

Types of Evidence in the PoE

1. Direct evidence:

Evidence that is directly related to the specific learning outcome or achievement being evaluated. This type of evidence is directly observable or measurable, and can come from a variety of sources, such as tests, observations, or self-reflection.

2. Indirect evidence:

Evidence that is not directly related to the specific learning outcome or achievement being evaluated, but provides context for understanding the student’s performance. This type of evidence can include things like class participation, attendance, or progress reports.

3. Historical evidence:

Evidence that has been collected over time, and provides a record of a student’s progress and growth. This type of evidence can include past projects, tests, and other assessments, as well as reflective writings or discussions.

Learner Workbooks Support Assessment

Learners are required to complete tasks in Workbooks in order to document their learning process. They must submit completed Workbooks providing evidence of independent or group learning activities for each module. These activities are referred to as Formative Assessment activities and are usually based on specific outcomes. Activities must meet and exceed assessment criteria outcomes.

Workbook activities help facilitators establish which areas learners experience difficulties with. Facilitators must be qualified to adapt and broaden an activity range. The activities assist learners in constructing a portfolio of evidence to meet all established criteria. They monitor and document what was done in order to prepare for  Summative Activities.

Formative activities provide information about your progress, your strengths and weaknesses. The Summative activities test your ability to apply the skills, knowledge and values.

Writing Reflective Statements for your Learnership POE

Reflective statements are written to express your thoughts, feelings, and learning from a personal experience or event. To write a reflective statement, follow these steps:

  1. Choose an experience or event to reflect on.
  2. Connect each experience and reflective statement to a learning outcome or specific part of your learning programme.
  3. Describe the experience or event and your initial thoughts and feelings.
  4. Analyze the experience or event to understand what happened and why.
  5. Evaluate the experience and identify what you learned, how it affected you, and how it may be useful in the future.
  6. Write a conclusion summarizing your reflections.

It’s important to be honest, introspective, and critical in your reflection. Writing in a clear, concise, and structured manner can also help you effectively communicate your thoughts and insights.

Training provider responsibilities during the assessment

The training provider guides learners through the Formative and Summative activities. Workplace mentors and coaches assist with workplace evidence.  Workplace evidence should show how learners began with simple tasks and activities and then developed to the stage of practically applying knowledge and skills, hopefully reflecting initiative and innovation.

Training providers assess these portfolios on a monthly basis and provide learners and employers with feedback regarding progress. This can be embarrassing if learners have been unfocused and poorly organised!

The training provider is required to be honest with employers about learner competencies and commitment; heads up, they’ll report you for misconduct or weak submissions.

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