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Observation by an assessor [►The Assessor's Role ] is a key piece of evidence.

Observation is a prime example of Performance Evidence.

It is important that the assessor records what they see. It is not enough just to say “I observed James/Alyson doing photocopying to the required standards” or to simply tick a checklist of Performance Indicators (PIs). The assessor should break the task down and record exactly what is seen.

It is vitally important that the Performance Indicators (PIs) and Knowledge (K) within the Units covered by the observation are recorded, usually at the side of the candidate recording form. This ensures that the PIs and K claimed are related to what has been observed.

The best observations are holistic in nature i.e. covering Performance and Knowledge across more than one Unit.

The context of an Observation is important and should be highlighted at the beginning.

Observation is the most valid and reliable form of assessment – you are seeing that the evidence (competence) is authentic and current.

Planning with your candidate is key to a successful Observation.

Be flexible – if situations arise outwith the plan don’t waste the opportunity.

Use Questions [►Questioning ] during the Observation to seek more in-depth understanding or clarification.

After the Observation ask any supplementary questions you find necessary.

Always make sure you give the candidate feedback and agree the next steps – especially if a further Observation is required.

It is also best practice to include as evidence any Work Product [►Work Product ] created during the Observation and/or consider taking photos or video of the candidate.

Observations can vary between being quite specific to a particular Unit or more holistic in nature. Some evidence can be a mixture of Observation, Professional Discussion [►Professional Discussion ] and Questions.

The following are examples of some Observations exemplifying these methods.

 PDF file   Observation 220, 250, 311, 320, 350
 PDF file  ► Observation 317, 318, 325, 339, 416

These are high quality, extensive, holistic, Observations, combined with Work Product [►Work Product ] providing evidence towards five units. Photographs are used to illustrate and there is also reference to video footage taken to supplement various parts of the Observation. This is an excellent example of [►Triangulation ]. There is strong performance evidence in the form of both Observation and Work Product, which has been supplemented by a detailed – but concise – narrative account of what took place, mapped against the unit criteria, and recorded at the relevant point in the evidence. This combines to give the Assessor a high degree of confidence in the candidate’s competence and the Internal and External Verifiers an excellent insight into the candidate’s work and the rationale for the assessment decisions. The quality of the performance evidence strongly supports the claims made against the Knowledge – again highlighting the value of Triangulation. Gathering evidence towards five units may not be typical of most Observations but – as illustrated in this example – is possible with good Assessment Planning.

 PDF file  ► Observation 24

This Observation concentrates on one unit – so is much less holistic – but still exemplifies very good triangulation of evidence, with use of photography and embedding of Work Product. In this example, the SQA Observation template has been used. Written feedback to the candidate is also included on the evidence. This can help the candidate reflect on what they’ve done and consolidate their knowledge and future performance.