Two time-saving tips to support learners with foundation skills

For most groups of learners, it is likely that learners will need to develop foundation skill competency. Remember learners may not arrive with internal ‘radar’ to know what is expected.

“We have no reason to assume that learners are proficient in the LLN practices of a new environment for a new purpose before they start.”

Adapted from Keiko Yasukawa, Chapter 6;
Kemmis R, and Atkins L, 2014, Teaching in the VET Sector in Australia, p103

If you know, from pre-training data or assessments that your learners will need to build foundation skills, then – ‘don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today?

Take a planned approach to support learners to build foundation skills. It will save you, and the learners valuable time.

Purchased from iStock

Aim to avoid the early warning signs that some learners are off track, ask questions, don’t submit tasks, avoid contact, or seek more explanation, and seek you out.

Avoid that overwhelming feeling ……where is the time?



Plan 1: be sure of foundation skill demand

1 Identify the range of foundation skills involved.

1 Broad industry foundation skills:

  • Australian Industry Skills Commission (AISC) Industry Insights report
  • Australian Government Job Outlook
  • Relevant Skills Service Organisations
  • Speak with industry representatives

Aim to remain informed of the developing foundation skills trends and demands – what does the workplace expect now?

2 Specific foundation skills involved.

The foundation skills may be listed within the unit of competency, embedded within the Performance Criteria (you will need to identify them) or, known to the workplace (skills specific to the training purpose).

Here’s an example of the information that will help you.

BSBWHS406A Assist with responding to incidents

Foundation skill

Training foundation skills demand

(Adapted from Training Plan Validation Tool – IBSA

Learning Learning skills required to participate effectively in training program (ACSF 3)
Reading Reading skills to source information and data from WHS reports and documents (ACSF 4)
Writing Writing skills to report and document incidents (ACSF 3)
Oral Communication Presentation and consultation skills to communicate with people from a wide range of backgrounds and in a range of forums (ACSF 4)
Numeracy Numeracy skills to source information and data from WHS reports and documents (ACSF 3)

2 Identify foundation skill complexity

If you know that the training demand is at ACSF Level 3 – then check the underpinning skills, or performance behaviours that demonstrate this level.

For example at ACSF Level 3 writing, what should be demonstrated with punctuation, structure, vocabulary…and what text types fall within this level?

Use the Australian Core Skills Framework and the Core Skills for Work Developmental framework to confirm the task and text complexity, and range. Here’s a suggestion for How to use the ACSF and the CSF to focus instruction and assessment 

From the start of training, you will be ready to:

  • explain and expose the foundation skills that underpin the task
  • include foundation skills criteria in formative and summative marking guides
  • provide targeted feedback about foundation skills to learners
  • review the training effectiveness to build learners’ foundation skills

Being sure of the foundation skills demand saves you wasted time playing catch-up when you realise learners’ are off-target, and competency may not be achieved.

Plan 2: be aware of the delivery approach

The delivery model (format, schedule and resources) affects two key aspects: 

  1. the ease and frequency of engagement with learners
  2. the access to, and range range of delivery resources.

Look for strategies, tools and approaches that maximise your opportunity to support learners as they progress through training and develop their foundation skills. Aim to mitigate known ,or potential trouble spots.

1 Connect learners to learners, and learners to you

It goes without saying – we learn with, and from others. It’s not always possible for a trainer to provide every answer to the plethora of questions learners may have. Connect the cohort together to create a community of practice. Promote the value of sharing experience, learning, understanding, and challenges.

Build a community of Practice

Social Network Groups

Webinar Connection

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Edmodo
  • Skype
  • Google Hangout
  • Any Meeting
  • Zoom

Speak or txt

Docs and blogs

  • WhatsApp
  • Google Docs
  • WordPress

Connecting learners to learners, and learners to you, saves you time. You receive a ‘news feed’ of critical and ‘live’ information from the learners that enables you to identify strategic responses, guide thinking, and provide ‘in-time-of -need’ responses.

2 Connect learners to a range of support resources

If you have delivered the training content before, or if you are familiar with the characteristics of a learner cohort, then you may be able to pick the ‘usual trouble spots’.  If this resonates with you, it’s likely you can predict the questions, or flurry of emails that will come.

Avoid the potential for answering the same question multiple times. Here’s two time-saving suggestions:

1 Develop ‘you’ in another format!

Record your voice over power point slides. The power point can be as simple or as complex as you like. perhaps introduce and explain the foundation skill/s, explain instructions, expand on critical points, or make tasks clear. It’s the explanation that matters. Here’s two VERY EASY tools: 

2 Develop a resource library

Use content curation to tools – to develop learners’ skills to organise their resources in one location, collate, group or cluster resources, access, classify, tab and share.

Enable you and the learners to add recommended sites, references, readings, you tubes, recordings. Locate model templates, and provide sample or practice activities in the same resource location.

Here’s two tools to consider:

Recording over PowerPoint slides is easy and  saves answering the same questions multiple times. Resource curation reduces wasted time hunting for that …….and assists learning. You provide one source for the learners to refer back to, as often as is needed. It’s conveniently available to all learners

Share some of your time saving approaches, anything to help reduce that ‘I’m overloaded’ feeling





One thought on “Two time-saving tips to support learners with foundation skills

  1. basdenleco February 18, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    Really practical article to assist in the application of the tools that are available to apply assess a new learners capabilities.Excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

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