Chris Cherry, Senior Associate, Strategic Development Network (SDN)

You will have heard it before - end-point assessment, and the new assessment plans upon which they are based, represent a fundamental shift for apprenticeships.

If you’ve had chance to look through some of the new assessment plans, you will see some assessment methods that are new, and others that are familiar. However, even if they are familiar, the high-stakes nature of end-point assessment means the way you conduct the assessment, or prepare your apprentices for it, will be different.

Following our introduction to the new world of “high-stakes” end-point assessment, we’ve started to publish a series of free insights into the different assessment methods used in assessment plans and how they work in practice. (If you missed it, here’s our article on the Professional Discussion - the Institute for Apprenticeships has started to publish basic guidance on assessment methods too.)

So this week, let’s take a look at the Presentation (sometimes referred to as the Showcase) Welcome to Article #3:

The basics

Presentation / showcase assessments are led by the apprentice from a pre-agreed outline brief. This normally takes the format of a short presentation including slides, notes, handouts and input from the apprentice, who controls the style and structure as part of the assessment. The technology and format of the presentation may vary.

Let’s unpack that a little bit…

When is it used?

The presentation / showcase is used to demonstrate an understanding beyond knowledge

and factual recall and can allow contextualised knowledge to be explored, particularly if the assessment includes a question session with the apprentice afterwards.

How does it work?

The apprentice is asked to put together a presentation that could be in a variety of formats to describe their work project, findings, learning points and knowledge learned in a formal, but relaxed setting.

This normally includes an introduction, some key input, with an opportunity for

exploratory questions at the end. Duration can vary, but normally increases with the complexity of the project and occupational level. Rarely will it exceed 45 minutes.

What does it assess?

The presentation / showcase assesses applied knowledge of a project or topic – it allows the apprentice to demonstrate their understanding within the context of their work and job role.

The presentation / showcase can also be used to assess some behaviours, especially written and verbal communication as well as affinity to a topic or area of study.

Validity, reliability and robustness

As this form of assessment is apprentice-led, it can be highly variable. Topic choices can present some apprentices with an unfair advantage or disadvantage – for example, if the topic is obscure, limited, or where the project being presented has been unsuccessful.

Recording verbal qualitative data is vital (video, audio or text) as it then allows the assessor to grade the apprentice (pass/fail) and determine whether higher-level grades have been achieved. It also provides a robust evidence base to justify and moderate your decision.

Advantages of this assessment method

The apprentice-led nature of the assessment gives the apprentice a live opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. If set-up and conducted well, the assessment will allow you to assess knowledge, and aspects of skills and behaviours (in context) all under one assessment component, and will allow effective triangulation with other assessment methods.

Risks of this assessment method

Not all apprentices respond positively or confidently to this form of assessment and can lead to a lack of consistency in grading and achievement.

The “high-stakes” nature of end-point assessment can compound this issue. With frameworks, the trainer-assessor had built a relationship with the apprentice over a period of a year or more. Now the assessor is a stranger (independent of the training), with no prior relationship with the apprentice. The assessor will need to be able to put the apprentice at ease from the start, allowing them sufficient space to demonstrate their understanding.

Apprentices may also be tempted to dedicate a disproportionate amount of time and resource in the preparation and practice of their presentation / showcase, which can then impinge on their preparation time and performance in other parts of the end-point assessment.

They will need to take care not to spend too much of their preparation time on how the presentation is done or looks rather than what is presented (which is what ultimately will demonstrate their competence).

What it means in practice…

  • Make sure that topics are sufficiently flexible to allow the apprentice to perform at their best
  • Agree a broad structure beforehand so that all required assessment areas are covered
  • In preparation, on-programme trainers will want to have a clear understanding of the grading and assessment brief, so the apprentice can ensure their presentation covers all required areas and allows the apprentice to demonstrate higher-level knowledge
  • This form of assessment lends itself to independent testing, and in some cases can be conducted remotely or online

Chris Cherry, Senior Associate, Strategic Development Network (SDN)

Places are now also available on our Level 3 Award in Undertaking End-Point Assessment. SDN are also producing a set of recorded presentations covering the main end-point assessment methods and critical areas of practice. They will be available at the beginning of March. Find out about our courses here

(More updates and practice can be accessed on our new End-Point Assessment LinkedIn Group and through our mailing list – feel free to join!)


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