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eCom Scotland’s Solutions to the Observational Assessment Challenges of the 2020s

'Advancing Observational Assessment and Evaluation in the Workforce' was the subject of learning technologies specialist Emma Dickson’s presentation to the international seminar, ‘Assessment Challenges of Our New Decade’, organised by Beyond Multiple Choice (BMC) and held on 21st April.

Posted 22 April 2021

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Inaugurated in 2017 to address the question, ‘how can we move beyond multiple choice to better assess for the effectiveness of learning, teaching, and training?’, BMC has grown into an international community of education and training-industry stakeholders committed to exploring, innovating and implementing the future of assessment.

“Over the past decade, assessments have come increasingly under fire,” explained Emma, who works for the digital learning and assessment specialist, eCom Scotland. “Critics claim that multiple choice assessments are overused, inequitably applied and misaligned to optimal outcomes for training and education.

“With the global rise of Covid-19, pre-existing assessment deficiencies have become more visible,” she continued. “So, the recent BMC seminar explored urgent challenges confronting the assessment world as we progress into the 2020s, outlining expert visions, plans and tools to address them.

“If the last 12 months have taught us anything it’s that it’s always good to have a back-up plan,” said Emma.

“We’ve seen this need for a viable back-up plan as our clients discuss pivoting existing observational assessments to a digital model, both for online and offline delivery. The use of online videoconferencing tools is playing a big role in the ‘new normal’ for remote observational assessments - often because organisations now see both time and cost saving efficiencies with the removal of travel from the assessment process.”

The BMC seminar tackled three areas: key assessment challenges; alternative assessment solutions, and transformative assessment technology.

“Observational assessments obtain evaluative information through direct observation - traditionally, with candidates performing tasks in front of an assessor,” Emma explained. “Since this happens in real-time, it’s a more objective assessment in that it relies on facts and real-time data. Typically, we use this type of assessment with clients in compliance training; leadership development; on-the-job assessment; training in the use of specialist equipment and apprenticeship tests.”

“The pervasive use of mobile devices has allowed online observational assessment to become a reality,” she added, “and organisations are inventing new ways to use this delivery model. Our experience is where assessors, typically, use a mobile device to interact with the candidates.

“Organizations then get an immediate view of all assessment taking place and can see how each assessment group is performing. They can set up global marking schemes, or rubrics, independent of assessors, that provide scores on selected criteria to produce standardised and fairer results across defined target groups.”