Pitching tasks to intended foundation skills: 6 suggestions

Aligning instruction and assessment tasks to a specific foundation skill level is relevant to each phase of learners’ engagement with training.

Prior to training or early into training

During the teaching and learning

Summative assessment at completion

Prepare tasks to identify  foundation skills the learner CAN demonstrate?

Use the information to identify the learners’ foundation skill needs

Prepare tasks to build and support learners’ foundation skill development.

Prepare tasks to enable learners’ to reveal foundation skills progress.

Use the information to consider what  strategies effective ir not effective.

Prepare tasks to enables the learners to demonstrate competency at the required  foundation skills and knowledge?

Use the information to determine successful or not successful assessment results or course completion.

Accessed from http://www.freeimages.com/ 13/3/16
Accessed from http://www.freeimages.com/ 13/3/16

Aligning, targeting or pitching – this can be an overlooked step

If you aim to identify, instruct or assess a specific core skill at a particular level of competency, then the outcome will be enhanced if there is regard to aligning the task (stimuli and instructions) to the intended foundation skill.

Foundation skills refers to both:

  • LLN – Australian Core Skills Framework ACSF
  • Employability skills –  Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (CSfW)

Whilst some units of competency state very clearly the LLN (ACSF) or Employability skills (CSfW) level, many do not. The progress is interrupted by the recent cessation of the Industry Skills Councils and transition to Industry Reference Groups and Skills Services Organisations.

For many trainers, having regard for the ACSF or CSfW is necessary.

Wherever the starting point – identify, instruct, or assess – a task is involved. 

Stimuli:

  • Sets the scene – what is this about
  • Initiates the first thoughts – what do I know about this?
  • Example: Read…., Listen ….., Watch ….

Instructions:

  • Advise the learner what to do to demonstrate performance of the skill or knowledge
  • Examples: Explain,  …….Demonstrate, ……. Produce ….
http://www.freeimages.com/ 14/3/16
http://www.freeimages.com/ 14/3/16

Why is it important to pitch the task at the required foundation skill level? Who/What is impacted?

 If the stimuli and instructions are not aligned to the foundation skill and level:

The learners

The trainer

The RTO

  • The learners’ capacity to demonstrate what they CAN do, is at risk
  • The learners may not be assisted with appropriate strategies and support to build necessary skills
  • Competency at the training demand (AQF and foundation skill)  is compromised
  • Incorrect assumptions may be made about learners’ competency
  • Feedback, suggested strategies, and resources may be off-track to learners’ needs
  • Formative and summative assessment that informs planning and delivery – what’s working and what’s not – is compromised.
  • Instruction and assessment tasks may not meet the training benchmark – validation may be at risk
  • Awarded results may be invalid

Pitching to the intended core skill and level may take some practice; six suggestions

1  Take a closer look at the stimuli and instructions, ask the following questions:

Is the task pitched higher or lower than the training demand?

  • Does the stimuli content align with the learners’ reading competency?
  • Does the stimuli context align with the core skill level to be assessed?
  • Is the stimuli an authentic workplace document or have authentic workplace relevancy?
  • Are the targeted core skills required to engage with the stimuli?

  • Are the instructions written to enable most learners to access them?
  • Do the instructions require the intended skill to be used at the intended level?
  • Have the instructions been trialled for effectiveness?
  • Does the task enable the learner to reveal competency with the specific performance features  of the skill and level?

2 Refer to the ACSF

  • The Performance Variables (pge 5) describe the factors that will influence performance at any one time: context complexity, text complexity, task complexity and the level of assumed support or independence expected. The document includes a one page chart showing the four Performance Variables across the 5 ACSF levels. Each core skill and levels also states the associated Performance Variables. The performance variables provide a useful quick reference guide, but you may want to check other sections to be sure.
  • Sample Activities for each core skill and level are provided as a guide. Check out the activities suggested in the Education and Training, Workplace and Employment domains. Are there similarities to what you aim to identify, Instruct, assess?
  • The core skill level Indicators may offer support to your decision, although they may not reveal sufficient information
  • Specific details can be found in the  core skill Focus Area and Performance Features. Some trainers find the Performance Features Grids in the Appendices a helpful section as the Performance Features for each core skill across the five levels are located together.

3 Refer to the CSfW

  • The document provides a table titled Generic Descriptions of Stages of Performance across the five stages of development (Novice to Advanced performer) in a broad summary format.
  • The Skill Clusters:
    • Navigate the world of work
    • Interact with others
    • Get the work Done
  • AND the Skill Areas (10 of these) may help to locate the type and level of  employability skill you are aiming to identify, instruct or assess.  There is a table that combines the Skills Clusters and the Skills Area,, explaining what each of the skills is ‘about’.
  • The Focus Areas state the range of employability skills that align with the Skills Areas.
  • The description of the performance behaviour for each Focus Area and Stage of Development is located within the Performance Features tables. This reveals the specifics.
  • The CSfW includes Influencing Factors, which, are broader than the 4 ACSF Performance Variables. Like the ACSF Performance Variables, the Influencing factors have the potential to impact performance at any point in time. But unlike the ACSF, the Influencing Factors are not aligned in the Skills Clusters or Focus Areas by Stages of Development.

4 Refer to examples where you can see tasks (Stimuli and instructions) validated by industry specialists:

  • Precision Consultancy ACSF resources
  • The Manufacturing Skills Australia site continues to retain the foundation skills resources. There are literacy and numeracy indicator tools (updated in 2015). The resources include the questions mapping to the ACSF. You will need to create a login to the site (accessed 15/3/16).
  • Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)  – is on the horizon, and will be freely available. The tool (developed by ACER) is designed to identify and assess foundation skill capacity. The tool is based on performance features of both the ACSF (LLN) and the CSfW (Employability skills) Watch out for the release of this tool

5 Become observant at Assessment Validation professional development either within or external to your RTO

  • Does the validation include explicit checking that the task stimuli and instructions align with the intended LLN skill and level?

6 Participate in formal/informal professional development

  • Adult Learning Australia have a Linked in Adult Literacy Network. Using a webinar platform, the ALA offer opportunities for members who want to submit tasks for validation against the ACSF, The sessions are presented by Philippa McLean; a key contributor to writing the ACSF. Validated tools are then stored and available for others in the network to access.
  • Connect with like-minded peers/colleagues. Is there a network available that is open to informal discussion, information sharing, and reflecting on effectiveness?
  • Ask Chemène or I via this website, or send an email to llnandvetmeetingplace@gmail.com, or give us a call (phone numbers in the right column near the top.

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