Think Tank Series – Assessment

The VE design team recently hosted a think tank event on the future of assessment in VET with the focus being “What do the changing nature of work and advances in technology mean for assessment in VET, skills and industry training?”

We were joined by four experts from various organisations:




As technology, industry needs and skill requirements rapidly change, what are we going to do about it? Our discussions raised the following key points:

  • Process vs. event: do we view assessment as a holistic process, blurring the lines of formative and summative tasks, or stay with the more traditional event, which learning is to build up to?
  • Audit and compliance: is writing assessments with audit compliance in mind fair, or should there be greater focus on ensuring language is appropriate and tasks are clear for students?
  • Student clarity: The need to ensure students clearly know what they are required to do (simple, yet often missed in assessment development), and the constant struggle between being specific with criteria, yet general enough to be adaptable and have a longer shelf-life.
  • Changing the way we assess: the trend is that we all need to look to more recognisable chunking of assessment. The jury is still out on how we will do this. Whether through improving on time-intensive RPL processes; training modules based on a specific skill or task; micro-credentials that are transferable and recognisable; the journey rather than the end-point and assessment through learning; or the separation of learning content and assessment to different organisations.
  • Target market characteristics: from aging millennials with short attention spans and a Netflix, ‘I-want-it-now’, binge-learning mentality; to tradies who want to get off the tools but don’t know how; to almost everyone who is increasingly time-poor, in need of more immediate feedback and shorter, faster courses.
  • VR and AR: the movement of new and mixed reality into assessment tools: Microsoft’s developments (HoloLens and supporting software) show that AR is just around the corner, yet VR may still be a while away before it is applicable to VET and industry needs.
  • Time: the assessment development process and need for time is a crucial issue, with one panellist saying approximately one week per unit is required to develop quality, appropriate and effective assessments. With teachers being so time-poor, should assessment writing experts be trained up and rolled out within organisations to assist?

Ultimately, everyone agreed that no matter the assessment tool or method chosen, students’ focus is and will always be on what they need to prove they can do; through assessment-led learning. With that in mind, it is comforting to know that we also practice assessment-led design and development in all our VE Design Team projects.