Writing – an essential skill

We don’t just write for the love of it

We—writers of this post—love writing!  We appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted piece of writing, from the elegance of clear and concise instruction, to the power of a story whose descriptions wrap you in the moment, the space and the emotions of the event.  Good writing is good for the soul!  But it’s more than that… good writing is good for work.

Now, more than ever, we use writing (and the reading that goes with it) at work to collaborate, negotiate, clarify, inform, solve problems and more.  Consider these comments from Professor Lesley Farrell, Professor of Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education:

The digital revolution, known as Industry 4.0, is fundamentally challenging our understanding of working literacies.

and this:

The work of writing is no longer confined to people who like to do it … writing, not just routine writing like job cards and problem-solving templates, but exhaustive, collaborative writing with people you don’t know and can’t see is becoming the fundamental work practice.

Professor Lesley Farrell,  Workforce literacy and factories of the future, 2016

So what does this mean for vocational trainers?

Vocational trainers must help adult learners build the writing (and other) skills needed to perform in the workplace. This means doing three things:

  1. Keep up with latest trends and practices in your industry and constantly re-assess the foundation skills—writing in particular—that your learners will need to successfully engage in workplace activities.
  2. Throughout all stages of your training, expose, assess and teach the writing skills your learners will need to engage in workplace conversations and activities.
  3. Promote and practice writing skill development.

More detail about each point follows.

1. Keep up with latest trends in your industry

The Standards for RTOs require trainers and assessors to stay in touch with latest industry trends and practices.  We’re confident that you already have some good ideas about how to do this in your industry.  Here are some suggestions we can offer:

  • Keep working in your industry (don’t just teach)
  • Attend industry conferences and other special events
  • Communicate regularly with members of your industry, including clients and colleagues
  • Subscribe to relevant industry newsletters, social media and other online forums
  • Enrol in training programs or qualifications that will progress your industry expertise.

2. Expose, assess and teach writing skills throughout all stages of vocational training

First, identify the writing activities your learners will complete, at work

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An example: a self-employed plumber must be able to confirm details of a job with a client.

 

 

In terms of writing, this may require the ability to communicate with the client, manufacturers and suppliers using email, text, web-based information, a brochure, or other forms to:

  • correspond with the client to confirm the client needs and budget
  • confirm availability of relevant materials and equipment
  • clearly explain the features, benefits, options of a product or service
  • respond to questions (sometimes difficult ones), negotiate prices or disputes.

It may also require the ability to:

  • use software and other related technology to write and collaborate online
  • manipulate pencils/pens to sketch an idea for a client.

Next, expose the writing skills needed

The Australian Core Skills Framework can help you to do this. What to do:

  1. Go to the chapter that covers the writing core skill
  2. (our suggestion) Read the sample activities at each level that match the writing activities needed for work.

Using the example of the plumber above, we found the following examples of sample activities for ACSF writing level 3 (ACSF, p.86):

  • Completes workplace records and forms accurately and legibly using correct technical and enterprise specific vocabulary
  • Enters routine data into a computer based management system
  • Uses email for routine workplace communication
  • Writes a factual text, e.g. a job history as part of a job application letter, following organisational guidelines
  • Takes notes in a short discussion in order to inform work colleagues who were not present
  • Records comments from a customer regarding the quality of service provided.

Based on our findings above, we can estimate that the plumber will need writing skills at ACSF level 3 to be able to confirm a job with the client and other relevant stakeholders.

Then… identify which writing skills to focus on

To help us identify which writing skills to focus on, we can now have a look at the ACSF Level 3 focus areas. Each focus area provides insight into the foundation or underpinning skills to cover in instruction and assessment.

Some focus areas for writing are listed below.  We’ve also given an example of what grammar at ACSF Level 3 requires, and what must be demonstrated:

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
    To continue our plumber example:  The ACSF states that people working at Level 3 grammar, “…use introductory phrases to indicate an opinion or a fact … using some complex and compound sentences … uses grammatical forms and vocabulary to to give instructions, explanations, ask questions and express viewpoint.” (ACSF p.85).
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Legibility.

Assess your learners’ writing skills

Assess your learners’ writing skills as soon as possible before, and/or at the start of training.  Use assessment results to identify which aspects of writing your learners need further development in.

And finally, plan and deliver training that actively builds writing skills in a vocational context

To build writing skills, give learners frequent and diverse opportunities to ‘interact’ with the core skills and concepts throughout training. Use:

  • demonstrations and examples
  • explanations
  • discussions
  • practice and feedback
  • reflection
  • (where possible and safe) workplace application.

When teaching, expose—and explicitly teach—the core skills (in this case, the writing skills) in a work activity.

3. Promote and practice writing skill development

Learning to write is a lifelong pursuit. We may become ‘rusty’ with the rules of writing, or we may never have learned them in the first place. Furthermore, the English language and accepted rules for writing in English:

  • vary from one culture to the next, and
  • continuously change and evolve.

So the first thing we should do is forgive ourselves if we realise that we—the teachers—are unsure about rules and accepted practice when writing for work.  That said, we owe it to ourselves and to our learners to put a diligent effort into staying up-to-date with accepted English writing practice in general, and in our industries.

Here are some places you could direct your learners to build writing skills, or where you could go to refresh your own skills:

  • Visit the Plain English Foundation’s website to self-assess your knowledge of modern accepted writing practice, and to learn more
  • The Khan Academy offers a range of self-paced online activities that will build your (or your learners’) grammar skills—this is a fabulous resource!
  • Download Grammarly to your PC or mobile phone. “Grammarly makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free” (from the site).

These blog posts contain fabulous reminders of DOs and DON’Ts in sentence structure, grammar and word use:

In summary…

This article has encouraged you to reflect on your current vocational training delivery and consider the extent to which your vocational training prepares your learners for Industry 4.0—the digital revolution, and the increasing demand on writing that Industry 4.0 brings.

We hope that the information, examples, and links will give you a useful starting point as you constantly refresh and evolve your own writing skills and those of your learners.

Please use the comment box to give us your feedback, and to name other sources of information that you think we and our readers would find useful to build writing skills.

Start a new year – and new program – with a foundation skills lens

Term one will soon be underway for another new year.  So, we thought this may be a good time to offer some suggestions on how to apply a foundation skills lens when preparing for training delivery.  This post offers four suggestions to help you do this.

1 Embed foundation skills into program design and delivery

We offer two ways to do this:

Use digital tools to engage learners and promote learning

The range of tools we use helps us create ‘Digital Palaces of Learning’ (Andrew Welstead – Velg National VET Conference 2016).  Using a range of tools:

  • offers varied and dynamic learner experiences
  • helps us customise our delivery – reach and respond to individuals
  • promotes interaction with the content.

Not sure which tools to use?
Each year, Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies asks her followers to rate the top tools they use to promote learning.  The 2016 survey reveals this list of the top 200 tools.

Last year, Jane went a step further and identified the top 100 tools for education.  If the tool is in the top section of the list, we know that many people use it and it’s likely to:

  • be reliable
  • be relatively easy or straight forward to use
  • offer sufficient help /answers to questions to the user.

Embed foundation skills into VET training – the training plan validation tool may help you do this

When TAELLN411 was introduced, a range of resources to support trainers were were developed. The Training Plan Validation Tool is an example. Unfortunately the name is misleading – it leads people to think it’s about Assessment validation, but its real purpose is to help us plan, when, where, and which foundation skills to introduce and support throughout your program delivery.

Keiko Yasukawa reminds us not to assume learners will have the necessary foundation skills to perform the task:

“While some students may learn quickly, we have no reason to assume that students are proficient in the LLN of a new environment for a new purpose before they start”

Kemmis, R and Atkins, L. 2014 Teaching in the VET Sector in Australia. Chapter 6 Yasukawa, K. Language Literacy and Numeracy in VET Teaching p. 103

2 Tune-in to the Foundation Skills

What foundation skills are involved in the training you deliver? Here are four sites that provide a closer look at the foundation skills needed for particular job roles.  Even if these aren’t the same as the work tasks you deliver, you may find these examples useful.

Job outlook

job-outlookJob Outlook offers a detailed list of the range of skills within a role. And, there are MANY roles here. The SKILLS include many of the Core Skills for Work Focus Areas which are listed in order of importance/frequency of use.

Skills highway

workbase-skills-highway-profilesSkills Highway is the location to access a collection of Literacy Profiles that provide sufficient detail and examples across LLN PLUS Critical Thinking and Technology.

Government skills Australia

numeracy-skills-gsaGovernment Skills Australia prepared a series of videos covering the literacy skills used across many government/council roles.

Auto skills Australia

foundation-skills-auto-tradesAuto Skills Australia offers a range of videos covering the literacy skills used across many auto/vehicle roles.

3 Prepare to support learners – who needs what?

Facilitate individual development

Most groups include a mix of learners, with different skills and knowledge.  All learners will likely need support of some kind when they are introduced to a skill or concept for the first time.

Two helpful resources to guide use as we prepare to support learners are:

The Australian Core Skills Framework gives examples of the type of support different learners may need.  The table below summarises support options, depending on the learner’s skill level:

acsf-support-variable

The Core Skills for Work includes a separate document titled, Facilitating Individual Development of Core Skills for Work.  Like the ACSF, the CSfW is based on a 5 level developmental framework. The suggestions and advice in this table are based on the Novice to Expert continuum however, they align very closely to the 5 levels in the ACSF.

This resource adds further advice with suggestions for:

  • the type of support that ‘best fits’ with the level
  • what the learner will be looking for from the support
  • what might frustrate the learner
  • who could provide that support
  • the type of feedback most helpful

4 Promote learn-to-learn skills

future-learn-crowd-source-learning

Learning underpins all the foundation skills.  It’s possibly the most import foundation skill to promote.

The Crowdsourced Guide to Learning – made by learners, curated by FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a university conglomerate that offers a broad range of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). Course participants are offered their Learning How to Learn resource – and it’s worth sharing. Our learners come with multiple learning experiences and skills. Selecting the ‘perfect’ fit for each learner may be a challenge. This resource covers a range of related aspects.

“In April 2015, FutureLearn invited people around the world to share their top study tips with us … while there are tried and tested methods for learning effectively, everyone has their own idiosyncrasies and habits … So in this guide, we try to showcase both our favourite tips from learners AND expert advice from the academic and online learning community.”

 

The resource covers:

  • why do you learn?
  • how do you organise your learning?
  • which techniques help you learn with others?
  • what keeps you motivated to learn?
  • being a future learner (lifelong learning).

Want more ideas?  We’re offering a series of foundation skills webinars through Velg Training!

In February and March 2017 we’ll deliver a series of Velg Training Webinars  that cover foundation skills.  The webinar series will clarify what foundation skills are, why they are relevant, and how to embed foundation skills into your vocational training.

  • Webinar 1. Foundation Skills and Learning: 23 February, 2017
  • Webinar 2. Oral Communication and Numeracy: 2 March, 2017
  • Webinar 3. Reading and Writing: 9 March, 2017.

 

 

December already?! There’s so much more to share…..

More ideas, tips and strategies will have to wait until 2017!

Now is the time for us to say,

thank-you-2

We appreciate your continued interest, feedback and support

Survey results

Thank you to those who completed the survey we distributed last month.  In the survey we asked for your feedback about LLN and VET Meeting Place in 2016, and for your requests for 2017.   We gained some terrific ideas from your suggestions.  Your responses also helped us learn more about your training contexts and learner needs.

We thought you might find it interesting to see some of the survey responses, which came from ‘colleagues’—both within and outside of Australia—who share a curiosity in developing learners’ foundation skills.  Here’s a summary of the results:

 What you like about the site

‘Unique, professional, exceptional.’

(Derek Bailey, Teacher Electrical Trades, TAFE NSW HIT)

Thank you for the feedback about the LLN and VET Meeting Place site. It is helpful for us to know the areas you find most helpful to you. We are pleased that the mix of  teaching and assessment resources, links, strategies, current developments, and tips, is helpful and informative.

Suggested Professional development topics (webinar/blog posts)

You indicated an intriguing range of suggestions for continued professional development – either webinar or blog posts. Although the suggestions are predominantly from Australian trainers, there are some from international followers.  Your requests included:

Foundation skills – general
  • Continue updates – including legislation
  • VET/LLN research projects and findings
  • VET/LLN success stories
  • Collaboration between existing industry bodies
  • LLN news
Foundation skills instruction and assessment strategies and tips

In general:

  • More LLN and foundation skills tips and strategies
  • Integrating LLN and Foundation skills in VET
  • ACSF levels in units of competence

For trainers

  • Essential skills for Trainers
  • Addressing currency of practice
  • Professional bodies
  • Locating specific foundation skills information

For specific learner groups:

Learners who:

  • are young/Gen Y
  • may mental health needs
  • experience the language of training (English) as a foreign language
  • learn online – how to unpack a question

Specific foundation skills: Numeracy

  • Core Numeracy skills for Financial interpretation and report skills
  • Inspiring ways to deliver numeracy (if learners are less motivated)
  • Numeracy skills for trades

Specific foundation skills: mixture

  • searching for a job
  • reading for electrical trades
An interesting and useful list to ponder as we plan for 2017

But first, time for a short break…

We’d like to take this chance to wish you and your family all the very best for the holiday season. We will return in January, 2017!

How to use the ACSF and CSfW to focus instruction and assessment

The ACSF and the CSfW are two documents written for the Australian context. They:

  • align with the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults definition of Foundation Skills (SCOTESE, 2012, NFSS p.2)
  • contain performance descriptions – observable behaviours – which we can use to distinguish different levels of performance in each foundation skill, in diverse contexts.

We rely on foundation skills to do just about anything.  The challenge trainers and assessors face is how to recognise, isolate and teach the specific foundation skills our learners need to successfully engage in work, training, or community-based activities.

In this blog, we’ll take you through one case study example, showing how you can use the ACSF and CSfW to help you isolate foundation skills needed to perform a particular task, then plan instruction and assessment approaches to build both foundation and vocational skills.

Our case study – introduction

In this example, we have used a unit of competency as the training benchmark.  For our purposes, we have based our example on just one small part of a unit. We recognise that to fully prepare for training delivery and assessment, we must look at the entire unit of competency.

Step 1.  Identify foundation skills required to meet the training benchmark

Nursery teacher supervising children playing with building blocks

Qualification CHC30113 – Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
Unit CHCECE004 – Promote and provide healthy food and drinks
Performance Crieria From Element 3. Maintain food safety while carrying out food-handling activities:

3.2 Within scope of own work role, carry out food-handling, preparation and storage according to service policies and procedures and regulatory requirements.

A starting point – the ACSF Sample Activities

Sometimes the ACSF SAMPLE ACTIVITIES are a helpful first step for checking the foundation skills required to perform the task at the required level. Use your professional judgement and experience to predict the core foundation skills involved, and head to that section.

For this example – to perform tasks with specific policies and procedures involves Reading, Learning (both ACSF), and Working with roles, rights and protocols (CSfW).

Start at ACSF Level 3 to find a similar activity that aligns with the task your learners need to perform. The SAMPLE ACTIVITIES cover three domains of life: workplace and employment, education and training, and personal and community. You will notice quickly if there are no similar activities, or if the sample activities are either too complex (go to Level 2), or, not complex enough (go to level 4).

Here are two Sample Activities relating to the Performance Criteria; one from Reading Level 3, and one from Learning Level 3.

Level 3 Reading – Workplace and Employment

Selects and applies the procedures and strategies needed to perform a range of tasks after reading appropriate texts, e.g. machinery/equipment manuals, standard operating procedures or work instructions (ACSF p. 60)

Level 3 Learning – Workplace and employment

Plans and organises a routine job, identifying possible risks and accessing relevant resources ACSF p. 34

The Sample Activities start to reveal the foundation skills involved (words in bold):

  • Read relevant guidelines and select appropriate strategy or procedure
  • Learn – access and follow response remedy or procedure

Please note:  The remedy may also require completion of necessary paperwork or communicating to supervisor, colleague or parent, for example. The communication may involve writing, or oral communication. For this example we will focus only on the core skills of  Reading and Learning.

STEP 2. check the range of Performance descriptions for the foundation skill at the level

Refer to both the ACSf and CSfW where relevant

ACSF Reading (Level 3)

  • Recognises the structure and distinguishing features of a range of familiar text types
  • Understands texts requiring integration of a number of ideas and pieces of information and some inference

ACSF Learning (Level 3):

  • Uses some personal and/or workplce designed systems for ordering, classifying and storing familiar reference materials for easy retrieval
  • Begins to transfer key principles and concepts to new situations, allowing for some contextual differences

The foundation skill,  following procedures, is part of CSfW 1B – Work with Roles rights and protocols. CSfW: Navigate the world of work. (Level Capable Performer)

  • Takes personal responsibility for adherence to legal/regulatory responsibilities relevant to own work context, and draws attention to any issues that may affect self or others CSfW p.25
  • Recognises and follows explicit and implicit protocols and meets expectations associated with own role p.26
STEP 3. focus on foundations skills through all stages

acsf-and-csfw-example

Focus on the ACSF/CSfW performance descriptions through training and assessment (both formative and summative).

Check the skills involved with ACSF Level 3, or CSfW Capable Performer to prepare

  • tasks to enable learners to practice or demonstrate
  • strategies or skills that will support learners’ foundation skill development
  • training resources or stimuli
  • guides to support instruction, or practice outcomes, and formative assessment tasks

Check the skills involved with ACSF Level 3, or CSfW Capable Performer to prepare

  • assessment tasks at the required level
  • assessment tools and resources at the required level
  • develop marking guides for assessors

Use the 3 STEP process to:

  • identify the foundation skills that underpin the workplace (or education/community) task
  • identify skills and strategies learners need to perform the task
  • develop and prepare targeted instruction and assessment approaches

With more use, the 3 Step process will be completed quickly!

 

 

 

ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement: 2016 version

First…
A quick reminder that our very short, online survey closes COB this Monday, 31 October 2016.  The survey asks for your feedback about our site – what works, what doesn’t, and what to feature in 2017.  We’d be grateful for your feedback.

take-survey-now

Thank you!  And now, back to our regularly-scheduled post!

acsf-pre-l1-supp

Hot off the press!

The Department of Education has released a new version of the ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement.

This new supplement will make it easier for us to meet needs of our learners.  Learners working at pre-level 1 need time to build skills, and usually progress in small steps.  The new pre-level 1 supplement describes these small—and now more recognisable—steps that learners working at pre-level 1 may take towards pre-level 1 exit level.  This will make it easier for us to more accurately identify, develop and report on the capacity of learners at ACSF pre-level 1, and identify ways to link from pre-level 1 to higher ACSF levels.

Make sure you access the 2016 DET updated version, rather than the previous PDF version

What’s new about this version?

The new ACSF Pre-Level Supplement offers, for each core skill, the same sections and structure as the 5 LLN core skills levels 1 to 5. This includes…

“… a detailed set of Indicators, Focus Areas, Performance Features and Sample Activities by which learner core skill gains can be determined and reported.”

(Department of Education and Training 2016 ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement, p1)

Stages are new!

At first glance, it may seem that the pre-level 1 information in this new supplement is presented in the same way as for core skill levels 1 to 5.  But this isn’t quite true.

For the first time, the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement describes two stages of progress—Stage A and Stage B—to represent the incremental progress learners may make.

The table below explains how each core skill is described in the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement:

Indicators Indicators are provided for each core skill.

Most of these start with, “Begins to …”

Focus Areas The focus areas that learners are likely to be able to demonstrate have Performance Features included.
Performance Features Performance features now describe two stages of skill development—Stage A and Stage B.
Sample Activities Sample activities are not divided into the three Communication Domains.  This is because at this level learners will need to develop their skills from highly familiar, personally relevant, and immediate contexts.

Sample activities for Stages A and B are provided.

Variables One set of variables applies to both stages.
Here’s an example

The example below shows Pre-Level 1 Writing Indicator 0.05: Begins to produce basic written text Performance Descriptions – stages A and B:

pre-level-1-3

Why should we bother using this Pre-Level 1 Supplement?

SBS’s Insight program recently aired an episode called Reading Between the Lines (first aired on 23/9/2016), which highlighted the challenges some adult learners face with developing LLN and foundation skills.

reading-between-the-lines

This episode is an important reminder of the many people in our communities who may have limited LLN/foundation skills but who sincerely want to participate successfully in today’s world. We have a responsibility to do what we can to facilitate this.

We feel that this new Pre-Level 1 Supplement will help us identify a way forward.

Extra reading… preparing pre-level 1 instruction or assessment activities

  • The Pre-Level 1 Supplement offers good practice approaches (within the Theoretical Underpinnings section, page 1)
  • The Performance Features  and Sample activities for each LLN core skill  provide a range of skills and activities that are highly useful to preparing instruction and assessment strategies and approaches
  • If you want to see some examples of instruction or assessment tasks, have a look at the  Precision Consultancy ACSF validated tools. Two examples are shown here.
Example 1:  Making numbers work

pre-l1-numeracy-eg-1

Example 2: Make a Sling

pre-l1-reading-eg1

Looking back to look forward

looking-back-1384988-1280x960.jpg

It’s the time of the year to review and reflect.

Looking back on 2016, we feel thankful, above all else.  Our membership has grown to more than 250 people, and we are grateful for your support.

We are also reviewing the LLN and VET Meeting Place site and making plans for 2017.  Our goal is to make sure that we continue to offer information, products and services that are useful to you.  We need your help to do this.

We’d appreciate your comments and suggestions about:

  • our 2016 site and services—what works and what could be better
  • the content and direction for LLN and VET Meeting Place in 2017—what to stop, start, change, and continue.

To capture your feedback, we have created a short, online survey.

take-survey-now

Other things you might like to know about the survey:

  • You may complete it anonymously if you wish
  • It will take about 5-10 minutes to complete
  • We’ll close the survey by COB Monday, 31 October 2016.

Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) : 1st of its kind for Australia

This is the one we’ve been waiting for… a high-quality, FREE assessment tool that RTOs can use to test learners in ALL foundation skills – i.e. LLN and employability skills!

The Department of Education has finally released FSAT, which the team at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been working on for the past 2+ years.  This is the foundation skills assessment tool we’ve been waiting for!

In this post we’ll:

  • explain what the FSAT is
  • describe 7 benefits of using FSAT
  • explain exactly which core skills are assessed with FSAT, and how
  • tell you how you can help get FSAT approved for use with VET FEE Help students, asap
  • help you get started!

What is the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)?

The Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is an interactive online tool designed to identify and measure an individual’s foundation skill levels. This includes English language, literacy and numeracy skills as well as employability skills.

It uses the theoretical underpinnings of the Australian Core Skills Framework (language, literacy and numeracy) and the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (employability skills).

Source: (DET FSAT Frequently asked Questions)

7 reasons to use FSAT

1 Developed by ACSF and CSfW experts All of the tasks and questions used in FSAT have been developed jointly by teams of external ACSF and CSFW experts, including authors of the two frameworks, working alongside ACER assessment experts.
2 ACSF and CSfW assessed Language Literacy and Numeracy AND Employability skills
3 Assess 5 levels ACSF 5 skill levels AND CSfW 5 skill levels
4 Computer adaptive assessment Comprehensive branching structure to target the appropriate level of question difficulty

For details about the skills assessed on and off-line – see What skills are assessed and how?

5 See the results immediately Automatic and immediate scoring and report generation available for all online assessed core skills
6 Resources for the skills assessed offline Offline components come with manuals, prompts and marking guides
7 IT’S FREE That’s right, NO service fee!

What skills are assessed, and how?

Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) core skills assessed

Automatically scored skills ACSF Non-automatically scored assessments ACSF
  • Learning (Indicator 2)
  • Reading
  • Receptive listening
  • Numeracy
  • Learning (Indicator 1)
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Interactive listening

Core Skills for Work (CSfW) core skills assessed

Please NOTE: Nine out of ten CSfW core skills are assessed automatically. During the testing stage it was found that Skill Area 3d Create and Innovate did not adapt well to automatic assessment so needs to be assessed off line.

Skill Cluster

Skill Area

Navigate the world of work 1a Manage career and work life

1b Work with roles rights and protocols

Interact with others 2a Communicate for work

2b Connect and work with others

2c Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives

Get the work done 3a Plan and organise

3b Make decisions

3c Identify and Solve Problems

3d Create and Innovate (See NOTE above)

3e Work in a digital world

Use FSAT to assess prospective, or existing learners across all adult education and vocational training, courses and levels.  FSAT results can help you:

  • provide targeted feedback to each prospective learner about the range of skills they hold (i.e. their strengths) and skills to develop
  • guide and develop solutions, strategies, resources or advice so that prospective learners know what to do, and where to access the support
  • prepare candidates for a VET FEE Help approved assessment.

How to get started using FSAT

  1. First, you will need to register your organisation with an FSAT account.  For more information about registering, click here.
  2. Once you have your account up and running, you may give your clients access to FSAT.

More information

ACSF CSfW
FSAT – general information FSAT – Frequently asked questions

See, also, other parts of our site:

  • access the information on our Foundation Skills page
  • or contact us via LLNandVETmeetingplace@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills

Formative Assessment

For this post, the Formative assessment refers to  the training stage sandwiched between Diagnostic assessment and Summative assessment. The stage of training where learners generally practise the foundation skills used to perform the workplace task.

Training Phase

Type of foundation skills assessment

Pre-training, or start of training Diagnostic assessment: check for learners’ existing foundation skills
During training
Formative assessment: check learners’ progress with learning how to perform the foundation skills embedded in the workplace task. Assessment for learning.
Completion of training Summative assessment: assess competency to perform the foundation skills embedded within the workplace task.  Assessment of learning.
The benefits of formative assessment to Build learners’ foundation

A typical training program follows the pattern:

  1. instructions about the workplace task (and the underpinning foundation skills)
  2. activities to practise the foundation skills required to perform the workplace task
  3. assess the learners’ competency to perform the workplace task with the embedded foundation skills

For learners who commence with enough workplace and foundation skills knowledge, this process may be sufficient.

But, if you have learners who:

  • are new to the workplace skill, or embedded foundation skill (Novice performer)
  • have some prior experience with the skills, but are unsure  (Advanced Beginner)
  • may need some skill revision, or a prompt to perform independently (Capable performer)

……… then, how will you know the instruction is sufficient to enable the learners to perform  independently and confidently at the time of final assessment.

For both trainers and learners it is valuable to find out as soon as possible, if learners need:

  • re-direction with ‘how-to’
  • revisiting strategies or resources
  • alternative strategies or approaches
  • alternative resources or support

……………to build foundation skills.

Adult learners:

  • can easily go off-track
  • may need to ‘un-do’ or re-learn a strategy, concept, or understanding
  • will benefit from confirmation of their approach
  • seek timely feedback

Formative assessment:

  • enables trainers to check the strength of instruction (‘how to’  …) and support strategies
  • enables the learners’ to become active participants in the learning process.

Think about ………….the implications of assuming learners are developing the necessary foundation skills, and don’t check?

We recommend an active and planned approach: Make formative assessment a priority…………..
1 implement an Assess to Learn approach

Assess Learn cycle_learningfirst.org.aublog05022016 Develop a feedback-driven learning environment where you are tuned-in to the foundation skills progress made by the learners and use this to influence the guidance and the instruction you provide, or the delivery plan overall.

  • Assesses learners’ needs – what are the learners’ skills, what do they need to learn ‘how to do’ now?
  • Select the strategies and approaches to develop the learners’ foundation skills
  • Evaluatethrough formative assessment –  the effectiveness: check progress, understanding, confidence to perform the task independently What progress have learners made?

Think about …….. how might formative assessment influence your instruction approaches to build foundation skills?

2  Where possible, stretch the Practice phase out

Formative assessment cropped

‘Dip-into’ learners’ foundation skills progress during the ‘practice’ stage of delivery. Build into the practice stage frequent opportunities to capture what learners CAN do, and the  challenges they face. Be open to their reflective comments.

The benefits of collaborative activity

“Beware of the lonely learner: they are at risk of making less progress”

Denise Meyerson  2016 , Emerging Trends in Learning ACPET webinar

For learners: Working with others or responding to the thoughts and ideas of others helps to shape the learning and provides an ‘informal’ formative assessment.

For trainers: Providing feedback to a group is effective and impacts all learns involved – it may also be less time -consuming.

Think about ………when are the timely opportunities to check in with learners as they practise the foundation skills independently, or with others?

3 Tune-in to learner’s skill development, some suggested etools

Some etools to assist formative assessment:

Other approaches: 53 Ways to check for understanding
4 make the check in worthwhile for you and the learner

The type of feedback can make the difference between the learner moving forward or not.

  1. Accessed from www.freeimages.com under creative commons licence 8/8/16
    Accessed from http://www.freeimages.com under creative commons license 8/8/16

    Clarify steps, reveal the foundation skill nuances for this workplace context, expose common mistakes, or misunderstandings.

  2. Confirm progress, strengths and what’s needed
  3. Construct clear benchmarks/checklists/rubrics with what is expected or required

 

If you are interested in:

How to build LLN assessment into VET training (including formative assessment):

  • join us as we deliver a webinar via Velg on 30 August, 2016.
  • contact us to answer your questions

 

 

 

 

 

An update: LLN links for vocational trainers

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Why this post?

If you are a VET practitioner, you will know of the many recent and ongoing changes to Australia’s VET sector.  As a result, there have been changes to how to access LLN (and foundation skills) information online.

In this post, we list up-to-date links for LLN and foundation skills information, resources, and tools. 

Of course, we also hope you’ll visit the resource links pages of our website, which have the links we’ll post here, and much more!

All links listed below are current at the time of writing.

See LLN teachers in action – video links

Ideas that work

Ideas that Work is an organisation that produces a range of professional development videos for use in a variety of industries.  A series of short LLN-targeted videos, called What Works for LLN is available for free online viewing.

What Works for LLN videos offer something for everyone—for trainers and assessors, for other RTO staff, for LLN specialists, and for people studying how to address LLN in training.

National Foundation Skills Strategy Project

One outcome of the 2014-2015 National Foundation Skills Strategy (NFSS) Project was a set of four video resources demonstrating different approaches to building foundation skills in a vocational context.

The different contexts and learner cohorts provide a valuable source of planning and delivery approaches.

National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults (New Zealand-based)

You may be wondering ‘why a New Zealand site’? New Zealand’s National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults provides a valuable source of strategies and resources to support the development of foundation skills within workplace training. You can read the latest outcomes of the NZ Adult Literacy focus here

One resource example is a You Tube channel that contains an extensive library of videos. There are 86 videos addressing aspects of Literacy! Below is just one example from their suite of videos covering Numeracy:

Self-paced online activities to build LLN skills

BBC Skillswise website

This site features various self-serve, self-paced activities that help people develop:

  • English skills
  • Literacy skills
  • Numeracy skills.

You may want to direct your learners to this site.

Khan Academy

This is a great site to help you or your learners build numeracy skills.

The Khan Academy is particularly good to watch and hear someone explain mathematical concepts and processes, from simple to complex. Learners can practice, check their attempt, and get immediate corrective instruction.

Examples of how to conduct ACSF assessments

Example 1 IBSA Pre-training Assessment Video on the IBSA video channel

Observe how these trainers approach  an LLN pre-training assessment.

Example 2 – videos created by Linda Wyse and Associates, in conjunction with Great Southern Communications

These videos let you observe how ACSF core skill assessments may be conducted. You will see:

  1. An ACSF assessment interview of an adult learner (Paul or Zoe), conducted by LLN specialists. As you watch this interview, consider how the learner responds to questions.  Identify the level of ACSF core skills you think the learner demonstrates.  Then watch the second video:
  2. A video of a discussion between LLN specialists as they discuss the levels of each core skill demonstrated by the learner. This video gives you an insight into how LLN specialists reach decisions about the core skill levels held by a learner.  You can also compare your thoughts with those of the specialists.

These videos are copyright (©) to the Commonwealth of Australia.  Please read the terms of use you’ll find when you visit each link.

ACSF assessment of Paul (Paul works in industry)

  1. View Paul’s ACSF assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Paul

ACSF assessment of Zoe (Zoe wants to learn English)

  1. View Zoe’s assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Zoe

Where to find LLN assessment tools

Precision Consultancy

Precision Consultancy has produced a suite of freely-available, LLN industry-validated ACSF assessment tools.  Some tools are generic (i.e. relevant to any industry) and others are industry-specific.

Each tool includes instructions for assessors on how to use the tool and lists the core skills and levels covered.  These tools also give terrific examples of what you might expect at each core skill level. So even if you don’t need them as assessment tools, you may use these as examples to help you write your own instructions for learners.

Other LLN assessments

At the time of writing, the Precision Consultancy ACSF assessment tools were the only tools that meet our criteria of being BOTH free, and validated by the adult literacy industry.

Keep your eye on the horizon for the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT).  We are waiting for the Department of Education and Training to release it (hopefully soon).

General LLN information and research

If you’re interested in staying up to date with latest research on LLN and foundation skills, we suggest:

Foundation Skills POD by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER)

NCVER has set up this POD as a ‘hub’ of information and resources relevant to foundation skills and LLN skills in vocational education and training. The POD offers a collection of recent research across the different foundation skills related aspects. You will also see links to key international bodies also tuned into the development of ‘essential skills’, ‘adult literacy’ skills, or ‘foundation skills’.

At the heart of the matter, recent FS social media ‘Grabs’

 

Heart of matter 3

It’s now normal to regularly receive a range of information updates, enewsletters, tweets, social media posts, blog posts, and emails. Each one offering information, advice, snippets, suggested follow-up actions, or best ways’ to do something. Each one, prodding us to tweak our knowledge and practice.

AT the heart of the matter for us – LLN and VET meeting place – is  Foundation Skills. This post presents the top 5 recently received ‘grabs’ from various sources that speak to foundation skills

Quick reminder: 

  • Foundation Skills (defined by the National Foundation Skills Strategy NFSS) LLN skills (ACSF) + Employability skills (CSfW)
  • ACSF = Australian Core Skills Framework
  • CSfW = Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework
(1) A BookTeaching in teh VET sector

This book is written for people undertaking further study in VET teaching and is written from the perspective of ‘what does a VET teacher need to know?’.

Don’t brush this aside – each chapter holds content relevant to each of us, with contextual information, current developments, pedagogy considerations (where relevant) and reflective questions. The exploration of VET teaching practice is taken from a wide angled lens, presenting constructive information and strategic advice.

Chapter 6: Language Literacy and Numeracy in VET Teaching, was written by Keiko Yasukawa, a long-standing and influential Australian leader and researcher in the LLN domain, currently based at University of Technology Sydney. Keiko has much more to say, but these insights or questions are the pick for this post

P98 As a VET practitioner ……………..you actually have much to offer in the practice of integrating LLN into your teaching because it is the LLN demands of the your vocational discipline and work practices that the students are learning.”

P101 There are multiple literacy practices involved with completing a course (Ivanic et al, 2009)

  • Literacy practice for becoming and being a student
  • Literacy practice for learning content
  • Literacy practice for assessment
  • Literacy practice for the workplace

P103 Reflective question: How explicitly were you taught about these different practices? How does it feel when they are not explicitly taught and you cannot figure it out yourself?

P104 The basis of the ’embedded’ or ‘integrated’ approach is  ………….  focus on making the LLN that the learners and workers encounter explicit and teach it to all of the students.

P107 A Reflective question: Whose interests are at stake when I am making decisions about my approaches to practice?

(2) A websiteSkillsone

 

If you are looking for a resource with videos to inspire or encourage learners  pondering what vocational course? or direction? SkillsOne has ‘Hundreds of Videos about getting a trade or skill.

Videos can be helpful for showing what’s involved with the work, and the underpinning foundation skills. The videos are from different sources, so are different lengths. Some a ‘bites’, and others more detailed.

If you have access to a TV – search the Channels tab for TV programs featuring specific trades and skills, or future developments.

(3) AN EBulletinACER

Teacher | ACER updates are sent each week. Although they are directed at school teachers, we share a lot in common when it comes to teaching/training/delivering instruction.

Our goal is to reveal the foundation skills at the heart of the task, and know if the delivery approach was effective for the learner:

  1. Two of the biggest blockers ………are fear of failure and fear of hidden criteria – they’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for. So, if we can make it really clear……..then they’ll move forward. (21/5).
  1. Taking an inquiry approach to the effectiveness of your teaching. Ask the learners, what kind of feedback helps you? Many reply – ‘Step by step guidance’. Some learners will need more detail – what seems to be obvious to some learners, may remain a mystery to others.
(4) An infographicIf learning was water
  • The core skill Learning underpins the development of all foundation skills (ACSF and CSfW).
  • Learning strategies are interlinked, often invisibly, within training/delivery instruction and support.
  • Delivery or instruction strategies are critical to facilitating learning.

Enjoy this simple Infographic; nothing new. a simple metaphor to tempt deeper reflection!

In your context, how are learners assisted to learn, so they can build and develop necessary foundation skills?

(5) A Blog

workplace learning

The range of strategies to  assist learners to build and develop foundation skills is vast. The range of strategies to build specific foundation skills eg Reading or Numeracy , is also vast. Generally we build skills over time.

It’s easy to be locked into the same information bubbles feeding our professional skills and knowledge. What are the impacts of consuming what comes in through the same sources over and over? Have you progressed with confidence to approach or embrace foundation skills within your practice?

Jane Hart’s (C4LPT) framework captures the variety of ways a trainer  might continue to evolve their professional expertise.

With  foundation skills in mind, where do you go to find:

  • what you need to know NOW?
  • what is NEW ?
  • what’s NEXT on the horizon?