One strategy for each ACSF (LLN) skill

We are often asked for the ‘one strategy’ that will make the most difference, or will be the solution for most training contexts and learners. If only there was one top tip.

Strategies relevant to your training and workplace contexts, learner cohort, delivery mode, and delivery resources may be very different to others.  Research can also shed new light on specific strategies and approaches.

This blog offers a strategy for each of the 5 Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills – Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, and Numeracy.

The tips are are not  THE ONE and ONLY best strategy. They have been selected due to current available research about that aspect, or frequently asked questions.

  1. Learning
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Oral Communication 
  5. Numeracy

1 Learning: Focus on feedback

The research related to Learning is flourishing as more is understood about how the brain works. One key tip that supports  a person to learn is feedback. (Shank, P. 2017, Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning). Feedback to learners is critical in the adult education and workplace training context. 

We have written in more detail about the value of feedback to learners through the formative assessment stage, especially feedback about the learners’ foundation skills progress. You can recap the  strategies in our blog titled Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills.

How do you work out what you will say to the learners so that they are supported to move forward with the task and continue to develop or practice the required foundation skill/s?

Tailored learner feedback can depend on the range and depth of the ‘data’ available to you. For many trainers, learners’ assessment task responses provide the first indication of  foundation skill progress. Communication with learners may also be possible. The emphasis is usually on what else the learner could or should do.

Have you considered checking in with all learners to obtain broader information about the training delivery elements that impact learning? There may be aspects about the training delivery that could or should be altered.

The ACER offers a Student perception of teaching questionnaire. Its purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The ACER questionnaire covers the following areas:

Learning environment

  1. Respect and rapport
  2. The learning culture
  3. Managing classroom activities
  4. Managing student behaviour

Teaching practices

  1. Purposeful teaching
  2. Effective teaching strategies
  3. Student engagement
  4. Assessment and feedback

Although this survey presents with a skew towards face to face based learning – it does still happen in the VET sector!- rapport, culture, activities and behaviour also relate to on-line/remote learning delivery.

Check the student survey administered by your RTO. What feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies does it provide? Perhaps develop your own tool to obtain learner feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies, or explore and implement the ACER tool to obtain learners’ perspectives.

2 Reading: Focus on skills to read between the lines

It’s likely that your training and assessment requires learners to read a range of work-based texts. Some adult learners commence training with a limited range of reading skills based on the familiar ‘comprehension’ style questions. This literal approach seeks to know if the reader can identify the who, what, when, where, and why answers.

It is not unusual to hear learners say – ‘the answer is not in here’ when they attempt an inferential question or a question requiring them to interpret the text content (required for ACSF Reading Level 3 or 4)

Competent readers demonstrate the capacity to infer and interpret at ACSF Levels 3 and 4:

  • ACSF Level 3: integrate, interpret, simple extrapolating, simple inference, simple abstracting
  • ACSF Level 4: extract, extrapolate, infer, reflect, abstract

(from the ACSF variables Reading at ACSF Level 3 and ACSF level 4)

If you are after a strategy to build learners’ skills to infer, interpret, or, read between the lines, try to change the question format to require deeper thinking or comparison.

For example: add must, would, can/could, will, might or should to the simple question starters What?, Who?, When?, Where?, How? and Why? 

ACSF Level 3 (involves reading routine texts with some unfamiliar information)

  • How could this problem be solved differently?
  • Why might the author have said ….?
  • What can the purpose of …?
  • What other opportunities should this provide?
  • How would things be different if….?

ACSF Level 4 (involves reading a range of complex texts, unfamiliar and unpredictable)

  • For what purpose would someone read these?
  • What questions can these texts answer?
  • How must the concerns be raised about ….?
  • Why might there be advice about……?
  • How could the key themes be addressed?

 3 Writing: Focus on collaborative writing

Workplace writing skills are evolving. Increasingly workplaces connect with employees through www applications. Workers are expected to communicate collaboratively, and use a range of tools to communicate with colleagues and other workers. Think about the tools and strategies you use to communicate a written message with colleagues, or within your professional network.

Most training involves writing a workplace task – the report, the client note, the income and expense record, the instruction, the compliance documents.

A connected workplace means workers need additional writing skills. The writer must establish or maintain the connection and demonstrate expertise.

Sensitivities are involvedLearners need to learn and practice the subtleties of collaborative writing, Others will read the message,

  • Is the message clear?
  • Will it create the right impression?
  • Could it offend?
  • Does it reflect my expertise?

Professor Lesley Farrell – a workforce literacy expert. Says

“Collaborative writing is now a fundamental workplace practiceWhen we write, things are at stake with each utterance …. This is not the kind of writing we teach or assess.”

Professor Lesley Farrell, 31/5/16 Accessed from: http://tinyurl.com/z5j4lvh 

Professor Farrell spoke at VALBEC annual conference 16/5/19. She will speak at:

At each conference, Professor Farrell  will discuss findings concerning the Literacy 4.0 project which focuses on the gig economy, the smart factory,  and the implications for literacy educators in workplaces.

4 Oral Communication: Focus on pragmatic skills

The ACSF refers to selecting appropriate oral communication strategies for different contexts. 

The appropriateness of what is said in a given context is referred to as pragmatic skills; the social language skills we use in our daily interactions with others.  In some workplaces, pragmatics matter.

Below are the ACSF Oral Communication indicators for the first indicator at ACSF Level 3 and Level 4

3.07 Selects and uses appropriate strategies to establish and maintain spoken communication in familiar and some unfamiliar contexts
4.07 Demonstrates flexibility in spoken texts by choosing appropriate structures and strategies in a range of contexts

Research by Mavromaras, K. et al, 2017 The aged care workforce reports that communication between residents/clients/patients and workers was identified as an issue by 88% of respondents 

Sometimes what is appropriate must be made explicit. Research has pointed to the benefit of direct instruction on the use of pragmatic language – i.e. cultural rules and language tools – especially where building or maintaining relationships is involved.

“They are not features of  language we pick up just by being exposed to them in daily life.”

From Mackay Pip, 2018 Pragmatic language skills for CALD carers working in aged care VALBEC Fine Print 2018 Vol 1 #1

In workplace roles where building rapport is important, for example in aged care, it is appropriate to use these pragmatic skills to develop rapport to achieve designated tasks. This sector involves both clients and workers from increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Where training people to work in this sector is involved – include the pragmatic skills to promote or build social connection:

  • small talk (cultural rules)
  • and humour (language tools).

 5 Numeracy: Focus on numeracy, it’s a critical 21st century skill

We know we advised that we will offer one strategy for each core skill. For numeracy we offer one podcast with the lot!

David Tout is an Australian expert in Numeracy. In this short podcast he provides key messages about:

  • what international research says about numeracy skills in Australia
  • the impact of numeracy on success
  • the numeracy demands of the 21st century workplace
  • skills and strategies to build numeracy skills

Access the podcast recording here.

https://aspirelr.com.au/pages/news-media/podcast-library/the-n-in-lln-why-its-a-crucial-skill

 

We hope you have found at least one tip that you can implement, or trial, or find out more about.

Share what interests you.

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.

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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

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.

ACSF, LLN, FSK, FS, CSfW, FSAT – making sense of the jargon

Foundation Skills under the Spotlight

Why are these acronyms relevant? No doubt you are aware that foundation skills are under the spotlight. As training professionals we are encouraged to raise the foundation skills profile; shifting their presence from implicit and assumed, to explicit and planned to be part of each stage of training delivery.

Each VET course and each VET unit has foundation skills within the Performance Criteria tasks and the Required Skills and Knowledge. Identifying the ACSF (LLN) core skill and the CSfW (Employability Skills) is the first step to bringing these to the forefront of planning, instruction and assessment.

A snapshot of these acronyms: FSK, ACsf, FS, csfw, fsat, and lln
Foundation Skills (FS)
The term Foundation Skills was introduced by the National Quality Council (NQC) and Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Joint Steering Committee (2009) in the Foundation Skills in VET Products for the 21st Century. Foundation Skills are under the spotlight; promoted as being critical for a person to fully participate in the workforce, community, education and training, and critical to the future of the Australian economy. Foundation Skills were initially described in the DEEWR National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults Consultation Paper (2011) as a combination of the ACSF Core Skills (Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Numeracy) AND Employability Skill (see list below) and continue to be understood in this way.Foundation SkillsACSF and CSfW

Both the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and the Core Skills for Work developmental framework (CSfW) are nationally developed frameworks. Each presents stages of development across levels of performance.  Each provides a common language and reference points to discuss or address particular skills. The ACSF presents descriptors that relate to the life-wide participation of adults in community, the workplace, or education/training contexts. The CSfW descriptors relate to  employability skills within the workforce practice, or workforce training: navigating the world of work, interacting with others, and getting the work done.

They are purposefully designed resources to enable professionals to:

  • communicate about aspects of  training content and context using consistent descriptions (the foundation skills involved).
  • identify and describe, the required  foundation skills to successfully participate within the training context (knowing the the foundation skill demand)
  • articulate the foundation skills and knowledge of those participating in the training, their skills, knowledge or understanding, observed or revealed through their responses. (knowing the learners).
  • tailor instruction and assessment approaches to strengthen foundation skills and knowledge (knowing what to do)

It is important to note, foundation skills capacity:

  • is not necessarily fixed or permanent, there is scope for development.
  • in any single descriptor/indicator is usually dependent on capacity of more than one related descriptor/indicator.
  • is dependent on the context, and can vary from one context to another.
  • takes time to develop. A complex matrix of inter-related variables impact on learning and transformation.
LLN

LLN is an acronym for Language Literacy and Numeracy – generally used to represent the core skills embraced in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF)  – Learning, Reading Writing Oral Communication and Numeracy.

FSAT

Funded by the Department of Industry, the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is currently being developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The tool will involve identification of an individual’s capacity against both  core skills (ACSF) and  employability skills. Information provided on the link explains how the different skills will be assessed. Currently RTOs have volunteered to be involved with the trials of the tool, then following necessary adjustments it will be available freely for use. The ACER want more RTOs to be involved with the trial stage, so register your interest.

FSK

FSK can represent Foundation Skills, or, is more commonly known to represent the Foundation Skills Training Package (FSK).

The Foundation Skills Training Package (FSK) is a suite of 91 units, each one aligned to an ACSF core skill (Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Numeracy), and core skill level level (1 to 5). The Employability Skills are embedded within these 91 units aligned to the relevant ACSF core skills and levels . For example Team Work, Negotiating and Presenting are within the ACSF core skill Oral Communication

It is intended that the Foundation Skills units, or courses (FSK10113 Certificate I in Access to Vocational Pathways , FSK10213 Certificate I in Skills for Vocational Pathways, FSK20113 Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways) are delivered  within a vocational context to support the foundation skill development that may be necessary for people undertaking workplace training.

If you have any questions – contact us. We welcome your interest.