We hope you are enjoying this little ‘Good vs Bad Practice in Assessing’ series. In case you missed it, last week we talked about planning an assessment. This week we bring you the good and bad practices of communicating with your learner.
Now we all know that good communication is key to success in life, work and relationships. Without it, what was meant to be a simple message can have a completely different meaning. Which can sometimes be disastrous! Let’s have a look at how you can keep the line of communication open with your learners.
Good Practices of Communication
The role of an Assessor is to be the main point of contact for your learner. You are responsible for keeping in touch with them, and supporting them through their qualification. It is important that you keep them up to date with the progress they are making, particularly if they are working towards the gateway of their end-point assessment.
A good Assessor will keep their learner motivated throughout the duration of their apprenticeship or qualification. By setting goals and targets to work towards, your learner will fly through the process as they will have the drive to achieve the next stage. Try to converse with your learner so that the goals are achievable though. If they are working on their qualification around other commitments you need to take those into consideration. Setting goals that are out of reach will actually have the opposite effect and de-motivate your learner.
Body language is a form of communication that is often forgotten about. Try to maintain a relaxed and friendly tone with your learners, particularly in the early stages where they may be nervous about the course. Take the time to listen to them and understand their concerns, and react in a positive and calm way. Learners perform best when they are relaxed, so they need to feel comfortable around their Assessor.
A final good practice of communicating with your learner is to establish an informal, yet professional relationship. Communication should not be strict and formal as if you are their teacher. If you are giving feedback, for example, remember to use the praise sandwich format to be positive and provide support to your learner. Customise the message you are conveying to your learner’s strengths – they may understand visual cues better than written ones.
Bad Practices of Communication
Now we have gone through the best ways to communicate with your learner, let’s have a look at the other side with the bad practices. One thing you should avoid doing is asking your learner ‘closed’ questions. What we mean here are questions that require a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. You should be encouraging your learner to elaborate on their answers and showcase their knowledge. Try and ask questions that are open-ended and therefore require more than a simple one-word answer.
Observations are an opportunity for bad Assessor practices to creep in. One of the most common things is interrupting a learner during their observation. This can not only put the learner off and ruin their flow, it can also make them nervous and lose concentration. Don’t try and fill the empty silences with random sentences either. Be patient and give your learner the time they need to construct their answer.
That isn’t to say that you should sit in complete silence during the observation – that would make things very awkward and uncomfortable for your learner. You may find the need to encourage your learner to speak in more detail about one particular area of their job in order to assess their occupational competence. If you see your learner carrying out a task which would be perfect as recorded evidence, you might want to ask them why they carried it out, and elaborate on their thought processes.
We hope this has helped to highlight some of the good and bad practices of communicating with your learner. Just try to be yourself as this will automatically put them at ease from the start. Up next is part 3 where we look at good vs bad practices of gathering evidence. If you would like any further assistance on becoming an Assessor, please contact our team on 01205 805 155.