role

The NQF and Curriculum Development

Download a copy of this policy form the SAQA website here:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2000/curriculum_dev.pdf

The National Qualifications Framework and Curriculum Development

We need systemic change, not just curriculum or pedagogic change; we need a new driving vision for our system, not just a new paradigm for curriculum design and delivery in the classroom.

Dr M Nkomo

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Publication date: May 2000

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction                                                                                    3
  1. What is a qualification and how does it relate to the

curriculumand curriculum development?                                        4

  1. Can the same outcomes be achieved through different

learning programmes?                                                                     8

  1. What is the relationship between the NQF, learning programme development and delivery and outcomes-based education?                                      10
  1. How does the NQF description of a qualification impact on

Learning programme development?                                              14

  • Planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined

Purpose                                                                                   15

  • It is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning 16
  • Critical Cross-field Education and Training Outcomes 18
  • Integrated assessment 21
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) 23
  • Credits 23
  • Learning assumed to be in place 24
  1. Conclusion                                                                                   26
  1. References                                                                                    27
  1. Appendix A                                                                                  28

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SAQA’s Mission

To ensure the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework which contributes to the full development of each learner and to the social and economic development of the nation at large.

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Introduction

A

s an introduction to this area, it may be helpful to explore what educa- tion is. This may seem like an elementary question but it is one that constantly,  throughout  the  recorded  history  of  mankind,  has  perplexed philosophers and thinkers. To this day, an absolute definition still escapes us. As Montaigne, the French philosopher, said when trying to find a mean- ing for the word education: ‘The farther I sail, the more land I espy, and that so dimmed with fogs and overcast with clouds, that my sight is so weakened I cannot distinguish the same.’ Nevertheless even though there is no undis- puted definition of what education is, that does not mean that there is no value in exploring the concept. It is in this exploration that one is able to clarify one’s thinking and sort out the basic issues, and then establish some

direction for a review of the South African initiatives.

A helpful place to start is the definition of education that Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, came up with some 2 500 years ago. He said the following:

We must not leave out of sight the nature of education and the proper means of imparting it. For at present there is a practical dissension on this point; people do not agree on the subjects which the young should learn, whether they should take virtue in the abstract or the best life as the end to be sought, and it is uncertain whether education should be properly directed rather to the cultivation of the intellect or the moral discipline. The question is complicated, too, if we look at the actual education of our own day; nobody knows whether the young should be trained at such studies as are merely useful as means of livelihood or in such as tend to the promotion of virtue or in the higher studies, all of which have received a certain number of suffrages. Nor again, if virtue be accepted as the end, is there any agreement as to the means of attaining it… (Politics, Book V, Chapter 3, Welldon’s translation)

In spite of its age, this extract illustrates some of the eternal problems that face those engaged in education. What is the purpose of education? Is it the development of practical skills to enable one to earn a living? Is it the process of forming and strengthening character? Is it the development of the mind and intelligence, the formation and understanding of concepts in the abstract? Is it the transmission or reproduction of our academic and cultur- al heritage and where possible, the improvement or transformation of that heritage? Aristotle asks what subjects should be taught. From the 1800s the study of the Classics i.e. Latin and Classical Greek was the basis of the cur- riculum, society believing that only if a man had read the Classics could he be deemed truly educated. However, since the exposure of that myth, debate has raged the world over about what subject matter and content best meets the needs of society; what is it that the education system should concentrate on. More recently debates have moved across discipline boundaries and

Nobody knows whether the young should be trained at such studies as are merely useful as means of livelihood or in such as tend to the promotion of virtue or

in the higher studies

Aristotle

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Qualification: means a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended

to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning.

inter-disciplinary studies have found favour. Rousseau in turn rejected the concept of deciding what children should learn altogether and rather favoured a much freer attitude, discovery learning. A further debate rages as to whether education is a process or is it an event of fixed duration? Having raised some of the complexities, Aristotle finally hints at the problem of how to ‘educate’ or how to become ‘educated’, by indicating that even if there were agreement on what its purpose is, there is no agreement as to the means of attaining it. This assertion opens up a whole new area of debate around pedagogy, curriculum design, development and delivery, education management and education structures. If the question was a difficult one at the time of Aristotle, its complexity has increased immeasurably with the theories and discoveries in psychology and sociology in respect of how peo- ple think and learn, and the relationship between individuals and the wider society within which they live.

It is within this context of constant debate and theorising that this discussion of curriculum development takes place. The concept that there is one cor- rect mechanism for curriculum development and delivery is rejected and this discussion serves only to highlight some of the guiding principles and the problem areas for curriculum dvelopment and delivery within the NQF.

What is a qualification  and how does it relate

to the curriculum and curriculum development?

I

t is important to explore what links exist between qualifications and the curriculum. It may then be possible to look more specifically at the rela-

tionship between qualifications and learning programmes.

Qualification: means a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide quali- fying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning; and it means the formal recognition of the achievement of the required number and range of credits and such other requirements at specific levels of the NQF as may be determined by the relevant bodies registered for such pur- pose by the SAQA (NSB regulations)

Standard means registered statements of desired education and training outcomes and their associated assessment criteria. (SAQA Act)

Unit standard means registered statements of desired education and train- ing outcomes and their associated assessment criteria together with admin- istrative and other information as specified in these regulations. (NSB reg- ulations)

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Learning programme means the sequential learning activities, associated with curriculum implementation, leading to the achievement of a particular qualification or part qualification. A learning programme can be identified with a cluster of qualifications, a single qualification or a part qualification. A particular qualification may be achieved through different learning pro- grammes that meet the exit level outcomes and associated assessment crite- ria of the qualification. (Interim Joint Committee, 2000)

This document, referring to the NCHE Report of 1996, goes on to explain that learning programmes, while necessarily diverse, should be education- ally transformative. Thus they should be planned, coherent and integrated; they should be value adding, building contextually on learner’s existing frames of reference; they should be learner-centred, experiential and out- comes-oriented; they should develop attitudes of critical inquiry and pow- ers of analysis; and they should prepare students for continued learning in a world of technological and cultural change.

Programme, curriculum, course: By programme we mean a coherent set of courses, leading to a certain degree. In a programme we can dis – tinguish a core curriculum and optional courses, together making up the different ways a student can choose to arrive at the degree. (Vroeijenstein: 1995)

A definition of curriculum is more difficult in that it means different things to different people and hence there is often enormous confusion when dis- cussions about curriculum take place. Definitions of curriculum range from rather narrow interpretations to broad, all-encompassing interpretations which include virtually every aspect of the full education system.

It may be helpful to mention a few of these and then try and suggest how the curriculum relates to qualifications and standards as defined in the NQF.

  • The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored. (Hadow Report)
  • The curriculum refers to the teaching and learning activities and experi- ences which are provided by schools (NEPI)
  • A term which includes all aspects of teaching and learning such as the intended outcomes of learning, learning programmes, assessment, methodology (Curriculum Framework for GET and FET)
  • All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried out in groups or individually, inside or outside the school (Kerr, 1968)
  • The overall rationale for the educational programme of an institution

(Kelly, 1989)

  • Contextualised social practice; an on-going social process comprised of the interactions of students, teachers, knowledge and milieu (Cornbleth)

Definitions of curriculum range from rather narrow interpretations to broad, all- encompassing interpretations which include virtually every aspect of the full education system.

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Those responsible for deciding on what learners should learn have in most instances been the same people responsible for

learning programme development and delivery as well as those responsible for deciding whether that delivery process is of quality.

  • The curriculum is understood to be more than syllabus documentation. The term refers to all of the teaching and learning opportunities that take place in learning institutions. It includes:

– The aims and objectives of the education system as well as the spe- cific goals of learning institutions;

– What is taught: the underlying values, the selection of content, how it is arranged into subjects, programmes and syllabuses, and what skills and processes are included;

– The strategies of teaching and learning and the relationships between teachers and learners;

– The forms of assessment and evaluation which are used, and their social effects

– How the curriculum is serviced and resourced, including the organi- sation of learners, and of time and space and the materials and resources that are made available

– How the curriculum reflects the needs and interests of those it serves including learners, teachers, the community, the nation, the employers and the economy. (ANC, 1994)

  • Curriculum then has to do with:

– Determining the purpose and values of the learning

– Analysing the needs and nature of the learners

– Deciding on the outcomes or learning objectives

– Selecting the content, the subject matter that will support achieving the outcomes

– Deciding on the activities, the methods and media for teaching/train- ing and learning

– Planning how assessment will be done

– Planning how the overall effectiveness of the delivery of the curricu- lum will be evaluated (Bellis)

From an observation of these definitions, it is apparent that in the South African  context  particularly,  curriculum  is  a  broad  concept  including aspects such as standards setting, learning programme development and delivery and quality assurance of the delivery process. This broad definition is symptomatic of the practice in South Africa where the creators and guardians of knowledge have tended to be the same people – those respon- sible for deciding on what learners should learn have in most instances been the same people responsible for learning programme development and delivery as well as those responsible for deciding whether that delivery process is of quality.

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Considering Bellis’ definition or description of curriculum, the aspects that are related to standards setting are incorporated in bullets 1, 3 (especially if it were to include assessment criteria) and to some extent, bullet 4. Bullets

2, 4, 5 and 6 relate particularly to the development and delivery of learning programmes. Bullet 7 is predominantly concerned with quality assurance processes. However the point must be made that a consideration of quality and quality assurance is a crucial feature in standards setting i.e. decisions of  what  the  desired  learning  outcomes  of  qualifications  and  standards should be, and definitely is a consideration in learning programme design and delivery. In other words, although the curriculum as such can be sepa- rated into 3 areas i.e. standards setting, programme development and deliv- ery (a focussed perspective of curriculum development) and quality assur- ance, these three are inextricably linked and of necessity relate directly to each other.

The NQF challenges the traditional concept of curriculum development as perceived in the South African context, in that it separates out the three parts: the setting of the standards, the design, delivery and assessment there- of, and the quality assurance processes. However, there is a recognition that the three parts are linked and hence the concept of a quality cycle. In the cycle, the standards developed through the participatory and representative structures and processes of the NSBs and SGBs and then registered on the Framework, will have their delivery and achievement quality assured, for all users of the learning system through the ETQA system. This system in turn, reflects participatory and representative structures and processes. It is in assuring the quality of both the standards and learner achievements that the quality cycle of the Framework is closed. It is through closing the cycle that the system allows ongoing improvements both in the construction of stan- dards and qualifications and in the delivery and assessment of these stan- dards and qualifications, by the users of those standards and qualifications.

In some areas the NQF processes have been perceived as being simply about change in learning programme development and delivery i.e. reform in teaching practice. However, the NQF is primarily about systemic change: how a system is put in place that allows for adaptability, flexibility, respon- siveness and accountability in setting standards; relevance, quality, creativ- ity and accountability in the design and implementation of learning pro- grammes; ensuring that the qualifications and standards and their delivery are of the degree of excellence that is specified.

In fact, the NQF is not about how learning is facilitated in the classroom and none of the NQF processes focus on learning programme development and delivery. The NQF processes focus on the setting of standards and the assur- ance of the quality of learner achievements. It sets in place standards and qualifications which become the starting point for learning programme design, development, and delivery. It establishes a new framework for who asks the questions of what should constitute a qualification or standard and who decides whether what has been done is of the specified degree of excel- lence. The fundamental challenge of the NQF to educators is not in terms of what should be included in a learning programme and how it should be taught and assessed, but in terms of who is included in the decision-making

The NQF challenges the traditional concept of curriculum development as perceived in the South African context, in that it separates out the three parts: the setting of the standards, the design, delivery and assessment thereof, and the quality assurance processes. However, there is a recognition that the three parts are linked and hence the concept of a quality cycle.

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process, and the relationship between different partners in the process i.e. the social milieu in which the curriculum unfolds.

The participatory nature of the NQF processes of standard setting and qual- ity assurance suggests that the responsibility for the success at each stage of the education and training process does not rest solely with those responsi- ble for delivery, but is the responsibility of all who participate in the system.

The participatory nature of the NQF processes of standard setting and quality assurance suggests that the responsibility for the success at each stage of the education and training process does not rest solely

with those responsible for delivery, but is the responsibility of all who participate in the system.

Can the same outcomes be achieved through different learning programmes?

A

standards setting process that is separated from the delivery and qual- ity assurance processes supports the proposition that the same out- comes can be achieved through different learning programmes. There are those who claim that the learning process determines the outcomes and that unless everyone follows the same learning process, the learning outcomes will not be comparable. However there are others who claim that although there will be unintended outcomes that differ from learning experience to learning experience, it is possible to ensure that identified specific outcomes can be achieved by means of a variety of learning programmes and courses. This is possible with proper planning and learning programme design, development and delivery, which would include the employment of appro-

priate assessment strategies.

Some facilitators of learning are of the opinion that different outcomes are inevitable and in fact this is desirable. Hence any attempt to define the learn- ing outcomes to be demonstrated by qualifying learners should be resisted because it is not possible. This opinion is often associated with arguments for academic autonomy. No-one would argue that this approach may be appropriate in some areas of study where the purpose of a qualification is the pursuit and exploration of knowledge for knowledge sake. However in other areas this attitude is irresponsible. In the South African context the process of recognising and giving value to that which has been demonstrat- ed by a learner at a different institution, has often been the cause of great suffering and disillusionment. Recognition pf Prior Learning (RPL) has always been extensively practised throughout higher education and at all universities. Credit has been denied only when there has been clear empiri- cal evidence of unsuccessful previous transfers or of highly deficient levels of learning in place. The tragedy is that there has been no systemic approach on the part of individual sectors or the state to address the real problem in the system namely, that qualifications that are comparable on paper and approved as such for funding and award purposes, are in reality not compa- rable. Instead individual institutions have developed processes of RPL which in fact have highlighted the problem further and learners who are found wanting as a result of these RPL processes, have had to suffer and are still suffering the consequences of the original systems failure. This is inde- fensible. Furthermore, limited financial resources place the responsibility

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on our society to ensure that learners engage in programmes of study that receive national recognition, and are accepted as worthwhile by all appro- priate social institutions.

Through the requirement for articulation in nationally-registered qualifica- tions and standards, the NQF has challenged directly what is perceived to be one of the most problematic social uses of qualifications i.e. the practice of exclusion.

In the NQF paradigm there is an acknowledgement that one qualification can be achieved through different learning programmes. One cannot ignore however the fact that different experiences have a direct impact on the ulti- mate achievement of learning outcomes. On the other hand, it is also true that in no system, not even in a highly centralised system, can this be achieved. Furthermore it is highly debatable whether pursuit of conformity in all aspects on a national scale is desirable. In fact, there are those that argue that the context and the niche that individual institutions occupy mil- itate against the establishment of national standards. Nevertheless there is a strong argument that society needs to be re-assured that if a learner has been awarded a particular qualification, there is a guarantee that that learner has demonstrated applied competence in specific skills and content areas.

If one accepts that achievement of learning outcomes is possible through a variety of learning programmes, then the real challenge lies in the evalua- tion of the learning programme development, delivery and assessment i.e. how effective is the learning programme and assessment that has taken place in ensuring that the degree of excellence specified in the standard or qualification has been met. In other words, is it only those learners who have displayed the registered learning outcomes that have been acknowl- edged as successful?

Providers have traditionally been responsible for all aspects of the learning process i.e. setting the standards including deciding on the skills to be devel- oped and the content to be taught, designing the learning programme, its delivery and its assessment and furthermore, through self-evaluation in those institutions where it was carried out, and in the case of technikons through external evaluation, monitoring the effectiveness of what they did. The primary task of providers is arguably in the area of the design and deliv- ery of learning programmes and the assessment thereof, the primary focus of their expertise. This means that decisions about how to achieve the desired learning outcomes, how to encourage the development of the iden- tified skills and in some cases, choosing the content that best suits the process, should rest in their hands. The NQF supports this. Furthermore the critical role of providers in the standards setting and in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the delivery process is incorporated in the participatory processes of the NQF. The necessity for self-evaluation as a means of ensur- ing real awareness of quality and improvement is emphasised and will be discussed in more detail later.

Nevertheless there is a strong argument that society needs to be re- assured that if a

learner has been awarded a particular qualification, there is a guarantee that that learner has demonstrated applied competence in specific skills and content areas.

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Outcomes-based education means clearly focussing and organising everything in an educational system around what is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences.

What is the relationship between the NQF, learning programme development and delivery and outcomes-based education?

Q

ualifications and standards registered on the NQF are described in terms of the learning outcomes that the qualifying learner is expected

to have demonstrated. Hence there is an underlying commitment to a sys- tem of education and training that is organised around the notion of learn- ing outcomes.

More detailed discussion of the reasons for deciding on this approach are set out in the SAQA publication The NQF An Overview. In short however, the NQF approach with its commitment to outcomes-based education and train- ing is the means that South Africa has chosen to bring about systemic change in the nature of the education and training system – to transform the manner in which it works as a system, how it is organised and the vision that drives participants within the system as they perform their own particular roles and functions within that system. There is an historical imperative in the fragmentation of our society, to focus on what it is that a learner knows and can do rather than where the learner did his or her studying. Furthermore in order to achieve integration and coherence within the sys- tem so that access and portability can become a reality, it is necessary to clearly articulate the outcomes of learning achievements.

When a society finds itself lagging behind other countries in the global mar- ket for example, politicians start to use education reform as a platform for canvassing votes, questioning the validity of what is taught and how it is taught in an effort to improve the country’s economic or social situation. Furthermore, when a new government is elected to power inevitably they engage in so-called education reform. They institute change in the content of the curriculum, a change in the assessment system, the advocacy of new ways of ‘doing things’ in the classroom i.e. they try and find the perfect cur- riculum and the perfect way of delivering that curriculum. In other words, they institute curriculum reform. These reforms then become the focus of criticism from opposition politicians and the cycle begins again. In this process, there is an assumption that is made, particularly by the education sector of society, that necessary systemic change is equivalent to curriculum change. In the approach described, attention is not given to systemic change i.e. the way in which the education and training is organised and managed, but rather to how the curriculum is delivered.

The word outcomes suggests a relationship with outcomes-based education, a philosophy expounded primarily by Spady. Confusion arises because out- comes-based education as discussed by Spady incorporates both ideas i.e. systemic change and curriculum change. To illustrate this, in answer to the question ‘What does the term “Outcomes-based Education” really mean?’, Spady responds as follows:

Outcomes-based  education  means  clearly  focussing  and organising everything in an educational system around what

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is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences. This means starting with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do, then organising curriculum, instruction, and assessment to make sure this learning ultimately happens. (Spady, 1994: pg 1)

The fact that curriculum change i.e. curriculum, instruction, and assessment, is part of systemic change i.e. clearly focussing and organising everything in an educational system, is made clear in this extract. However this dis- tinction is not always clear in discussions in the South African context.

Spady has made the point that outcomes-based education is not about cur- riculum change (Spady 1999). It is about changing the nature of how the education system works – the guiding vision, a set of principles and guide- lines that frame the education and training activities that take place within a system. If one accepts that outcomes-based education is about systemic change, then there is likely to be a dimension that challenges current prac- tices of curriculum development and delivery. However the point needs to be emphasised: outcomes-based education is primarily about systemic change and not curriculum change. The NQF then in its commitment to a system of education and training that is organised around the notion of learning outcomes, is about systemic change.

Spady also states that outcomes-based education is about a consistent, focussed, systematic, creative implementation of four principles:

  • A clarity of focus on the learning outcomes that ultimately students need to demonstrate; Spady calls these complex role performance abil- ities and the corresponding South African conception could possibly be the critical cross-field education and training outcomes. Spady’s map- ping of SAQA’s critical cross-field outcomes to his complex role per- formance abilities is attached as Appendix A.
  • The design-down/build-back approach to building the curriculum; the curriculum design starts with the abilities, skills, knowledge, attitudes that one ultimately wants students to demonstrate and ensures that the assessment is focussed on what the learner has achieved in relation to these learning outcomes rather than focussed on what was presented in the course of delivery.
  • High expectations; the expectation must be that learners are able to achieve these outcomes and therefore it is necessary for those who work in the system to behave and structure what they do in working with learners, in such a way that they are enabled to achieve these outcomes;
  • Expanded opportunity; there is a necessity to move beyond the rigid blocks we have created around education e.g. blocks of time and the tra- ditional organisation of learning institutions. (Spady, 1999)

In the NSB regulations, outcomes are defined as the contextually demon- strated end products of the learning process. Hence in the NQF paradigm,

There is a necessity to move beyond the rigid blocks we have created around education e.g. blocks of time and the

traditional organisation of learning institutions.

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the successful planning and delivery of a learning programme is only pos- sible when the desired endpoint or endpoints are clear i.e. the desired learn- ing outcomes. There are choices to be made within the learning programme design and development in respect of methodology, assessment, technolog- ical resources to be used etc. Within an outcomes-based system, these choic- es need to be governed by the extent to which a particular decision con- tributes ultimately to the achievement of the desired learning outcomes, be they specific or critical outcomes.

One could argue that any education and training system exists on a number of levels and it would be appropriate at this stage to distinguish three them:

In the South African context however, in

1994 the democratic government faced substantial problems in education and training at the systemic level. These problems were so deep-rooted and wide-spread in the system from schooling through to higher education and training that they impacted negatively on actual teaching practice and student learning.

1 The principles governing the system organisation i.e. the value drivers in a system;

2 The principles of pedagogy or the educational philosophy that drives learning programme design, delivery and assessment;

3 Specific learning programme delivery or implementation – pedagogy in the classroom.

Some would argue that (2) should precede (1). In the South African context however, in 1994 the democratic government faced substantial problems in education and training at the systemic level. These problems were so deep- rooted and wide-spread in the system from schooling through to higher edu- cation and training that they impacted negatively on actual teaching practice and student learning. Hence in the South African scenario, the most press- ing need for reform was at the systemic level. This is a pre-requisite for deeper engagement with pedagogy and teaching practices. Hence in order to address the fundamental problems in our system of relevance, integration and coherence, access, articulation, progression and portability, credibility and legitimacy, in a transparent way for all users of the system, the decision was taken to establish a qualifications framework i.e. a set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable recognition of acquired skills and knowledge; the records reflect the required outcomes of the learning process. Hence at the systems organisa- tional level, the NQF determines that a system organised around the notion of learning outcomes will drive education and training in South Africa.

The next stage of concern for those responsible for ensuring that the educa- tion and training system delivers appropriately, is the area of education man- agement and teaching practice. This naturally involves engaging with the pedagogy of outcomes-based education. At this level it is likely that there will be disagreement among practitioners; some will support the education- al philosophy associated with outcomes-based education and the associated teaching strategies while others will deny its effectiveness. This kind of debate is essential in that practitioners are forced to consider the effective- ness of their own practice in relation to different views. However debates at this level must distinguish between outcomes-based education as a driver in systemic reform i.e. transformation, and outcomes-based education as an educational philosophy that governs classroom activity.

At the third level, consideration is focused on the implementation of partic-

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ular learning programmes within the system. Clearly if the practical arrangements for implementation have not addressed all aspects adequately e.g. teacher training, support material, it is illogical to claim that the role of outcomes-based education in systemic transformation is at fault; or the edu- cational principles expounded by proponents of outcomes-based education are invalid. Prof. Jonathan Jansen has convincingly argued that implemen- tation issues, which are not necessarily related to philosophical issues, are at the heart of the success of delivery in an education and training system.

The NQF’s alignment then with outcomes-based education is at the systems organisation level. The NQF philosophy indicates that decisions in respect of learning programme design, development, delivery and assessment need to consider constantly the learning outcomes that learners need to demon- strate. Decisions should not be governed by the input that facilitators can make to the process e.g. special areas of interest, particular attitudes. This is especially true in the design of assessment processes. It can be convincing- ly argued that good facilitators of learning and curriculum developers have always done that – a Janus-faced approach of looking at what the desired learning outcomes are and developing learning programmes in accordance with the available resources thereby ensuring the balance between inputs and outcomes. This cannot be argued as convincingly for assessment prac- tices and this issue will be discussed in more detail later.

There is a need for practitioners to accept that there are assumptions within our systemic structures that may be problematic and ought to be changed e.g. time-based learning programmes rather than learning programmes focused on outcomes; recognising and valuing formal learning within insti- tutions above learning gained in the workplace; assessment models that ignore skills other than reading and writing. The skill of a true educator is the ability to identify the problematic assumptions and develop positive and creative ways of challenging the structures and changing their influence on learners so that they are in a better position to deal with the demands of the real world; that they have education for employability i.e. the ability to adapt acquired skills to new working environments (those ultimate learning outcomes that we would like all learners to demonstrate) and not simply education for employment i.e. the ability to do a specific job. The principles of expanded opportunity and high expectation are particularly relevant.

The danger that threatens the system is that outcomes-based education is per- ceived as a panacea for all ills in the South African education and training sys- tem. This is clearly not the case. The NQF has been created to address spe- cific systemic features, namely a system that created and perpetuated inequity through inappropriate social uses of qualifications, that permitted the delivery of education and training that lacked quality and that prevented adequate par- ticipation in education and training decision-making by important stakehold- ers. The NQF is not a curriculum framework and hence its primary focus is not how the outcomes are achieved. Its primary focus however does include what it is that curricula or more specifically, learning programmes, should aim to achieve – the desired learning outcomes – and the assurance that learners accredited with particular standards and qualifications have demonstrated their ability as specified in the standards and qualifications.

The NQF philosophy indicates that decisions in respect of learning programme design, development, delivery and assessment need to

consider constantly the learning outcomes that learners need to demonstrate.

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In some cases, people maintain that supporters of the NQF or proponents of outcomes-based education claim that outcomes-based education is a panacea for all ills in education and training. In a country like South Africa with its history of deprivation, the nature of the problems that exist in edu- cation and training are multi-faceted, and it would be naïve to contemplate that there is a single solution. The problems are many and the solutions rest in numerous initiatives, arguably the most significant of which is the NQF.

In a country like South Africa with its history of deprivation, the nature of the problems that exist in education and training are multi- faceted, and it would be naïve to

contemplate that there is a single solution.

How does the NQF description of a qualification impact on learning programme development?

I

n the NSB regulations, a qualification is described as follows: A qualification shall

  • represent a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualify- ing learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning;
  • add value to qualifying learner in terms of enrichment of the person through provision of status, recognition, credentials and licensing, mar- ketability and employability; and opening-up of access routes to addi- tional education and training;
  • provide benefits to society and the economy through enhancing citizen- ship, increasing social and economic productivity, providing specifical- ly skilled/professional people and transforming and redressing legacies of inequity;
  • comply with objectives  of  the  NQF  contained  in  section  2  of  the

(SAQA) Act;

  • have both specific and critical cross-field outcomes that promote life- long learning;
  • where applicable, be internationally comparable;
  • incorporate integrated assessment appropriately to ensure that the pur- pose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment shall use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simu- lations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations;
  • indicate in the rules governing the award of the qualification that the qualification may be achieved in whole or in part through the recogni- tion of prior learning, which concept includes but is not limited to learn- ing outcomes achieved through formal, informal and non-formal learn- ing and work experience.

Not all eight points are directly related to curriculum development and delivery. However it is arguable that curriculum developers cannot ignore any of these aspects and in fact, should make every effort to ensure that they

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are considered in the learning programme development, delivery and assessment. It may be helpful to explore some of the features of a qualifi- cation in more detail.

Planned combination of learning outcomes with a defined purpose

Every qualification and standard that is registered on the framework must have a declared purpose. Once the purpose of the qualification is defined, learning programme developers are provided with a clear indication of the focus area. The purpose may be as specific or as flexible as the crafters of the qualification wish: a qualification geared to a specific task e.g. a blast- ing certificate, will have a specific, direct purpose while another qualifica- tion may have as its purpose, the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge sake, the development of formative thinking skills.

Not only must the purpose be clear. The combination of learning outcomes must be acquired systematically, in a planned programme of learning to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is met. There is an awareness of the pitfall of the shopping-basket approach to qualification acquisition i.e. a process whereby a learner accumulates credits for achieved outcomes, but the combination has happened in such a way that the achievement is mean- ingless in respect of the purpose of the qualification. This pitfall has been pointed out on numerous occasions and is one of the reasons given for rejecting the unit-standard model of qualification structure. Hence in the design and delivery of the learning programmes the ultimate purpose of the qualification must be kept, to ensure the articulation that is intended in the framework. The assessment processes in particular are crucial to ensure that there is an alignment between the purpose of the qualification and the way in which the learning outcomes are assessed and learners are accredited. The role of rules of combination in standards setting, responsible learning pro- gramme development and delivery, integrated assessment and effective quality assurance processes are critical in avoiding this pitfall. The intention of the whole qualification is not necessarily achieved by the achievement of its parts.

By the same token, the purpose of whole qualifications that are not struc- tured using unit-standards, can subsume the parts to such an extent that articulation between qualifications, access, progress and portability within the system are virtually impossible. The pitfall in such a system is that it favours a particular way of learning – following a continuous programme over a period of time, usually a few years, which culminates in a qualifica- tion that is institution-specific. Attention must be given to the accreditation of learners who have demonstrated specific learning outcomes and who choose, for whatever reason, to leave a particular institution or to leave fur- ther study, with the intention of continuing study at a later stage or at anoth- er institution. This problem is especially prevalent in higher education and training where the perception exists that learners’ acceptance in another institution at a later stage is not necessarily determined by the actual learn- ing they have gained previously but by criteria determined by the institution

Not only must the purpose be clear. The combination of learning outcomes must be acquired systematically, in a

planned programme of learning to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is met.

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at which they wish to register, based on their own perceptions of the quali- ty of the courses they have followed. By suggesting that different institu- tions meet the needs of different contexts and niche markets while at the same time awarding qualifications that share the same names, one avoids directly confronting the underlying perceptions about differences in the quality of delivery and assessment within the system and then addressing them. The lack of transparency in exposing the systemic problems, which seem evident from the RPL practices of some institutions, does not posi- tively promote the development of a culture of life-long learning.

The debate about the pros and cons of each model for qualification con- struction are endless. For the successful implementation of the NQF, it is enough for curriculum developers to acknowledge that both approaches exist and in the development, delivery and assessment of learning programmes for the particular qualification they are working with, they need to be aware of the associated problems and ensure that the pitfalls are obviated.

Applied competence is defined as the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

It is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning

In the NSB regulations, applied competence is defined as the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification.

The concept suggests that foundational competence, practical competence and reflexive competence are all necessary for the meaningful accomplish- ment of a task in any real world context. Foundational competence is described as an understanding of what is being done and why. Practical competence is described as a demonstrated ability to do a particular thing. Reflexive competence is described as a demonstrated ability to integrate or connect performance with the understanding of that performance so as to learn from the actions and adapt to change and unforeseen circumstances. Ian Bellis defines competence as a skill or cluster of skills, carried out in an indicated context to standards of performance, of understanding in context, of understanding the system and of transferring the skills to other related contexts. He has also indicated that this approach is not new: “The ideas and the practice have been around for well over twenty years”.

The  notion  of  applied  competence  indicates  that  a  qualification  must address both the ‘theory’ needs as well as the practical needs of learners. A qualifying learner must be able to understand as well as do something use- ful with the knowledge, in a real-world context – the balance between the needs of the individual and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

The word ‘competence’ in outcomes-based education or competency mod- els is accused of narrowness, focused on action with little attention to the understanding or the moral issues surrounding the action. Criticisms of operationalism and marketisation of knowledge are often levelled at out- comes-based systems. It may be worth recalling Barnett’s statement in this regard:

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The new vocabulary in higher education is a sign that mod- ern society is reaching for other definitions of knowledge and reasoning. Notions of skill, vocationalism, transferabi- lity, competence, outcomes, experiential learning capability and enterprise, when taken together, are indications that tra- ditional definitions of knowledge are felt to be inadequate for meeting the systems-wide problems faced by contempo- rary society. Whereas those traditional definitions of know- ledge have emphasised language, especially through writ- ing, an open process of communication, and formal and dis- cipline-bound conventions, the new terminology urges high- er education to allow the term knowledge to embrace know- ledge-through-action, particular outcomes of a learning transaction, and transdisciplinary forms of skill

(Barnett, 1994: 71)

There has been a broadening of the concept of ‘competence’ to embrace the notion of applied competence. The behaviouralist limitations that have dogged competency models to date exist only if irresponsible educators pro- mote them. It rests in the hands of learning programme developers and implementers to ensure that learning does not become narrow, behaviourist and devoid of critical thought. The curriculum principle of praxis – the inte- gration of action and reflection in a particular context, is consistent with this understanding of competence. Critical self-evaluation ought to reveal short- comings in this area.

The concept of applied competence incorporates the notion that there are different kinds of knowledge. Gibbons et al. have identified two modes of knowledge i.e. Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 1 knowledge tends to be homog- enous, rooted in disciplines, hierarchically structured and coded according to the canonical rules of specific disciplines. It is usually transmitted from disciplinary expert to novice and problems are usually set and solved with- in the academic community. Mode 2 knowledge on the other hand is non- hierarchical, inter- or trans-disciplinary, fast changing, contextualised and socially responsive. Problems arise in society and are solved in the context of application. Gibbons et al. have described the shift that is occurring inter- nationally from Mode 1 to Mode 2 forms of knowledge production.

It has been suggested that most learning programmes do provide learners with propositional knowledge or foundational competence. However with- in the context of applied competence, they should also offer learners oppor- tunities to gain practical competence, not only in controlled and defined environments as indicated in the description of Mode 1 knowledge, but also outside the safety of the classroom and laboratory, in real-world contexts, where learners will be required to adapt and re-contextualise their learning to function successfully in complex and unpredictable circumstances. These opportunities enable the development of reflexive competence and self- improvement. In the assessment of learners too the notion of applied com- petence is often ignored and assessment focuses on foundational compe-

Whereas those traditional definitions of knowledge have emphasised language, especially through writing, an open process of communication, and formal and discipline-

bound conventions, the new terminology urges higher education to allow the term knowledge to embrace knowledge-through- action, particular outcomes of a learning transaction, and transdisciplinary forms of skill

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tence or in limited cases, practical competence. Rarely is assessment direct- ed at reflexive competence.

There are those who argue that the NQF processes through the emphasis on outcomes, side-steps the issue of values in the curriculum. It could also be argued however that reflexive competence requires learners to reflect on their learning experience critically, in terms of the values espoused by a democratic society. Certainly the objectives of the NQF and the values embedded in the critical outcomes would suggest that reflexive competence within the NQF includes a consideration of the learning experience within a value system, the ethical implications of particular practices and the atten- dant social responsibilities.

It is mandatory for standards setters to incorporate at least some of the Critical Outcomes in the standards that they recommend and proposers of qualifications must ensure that all Critical Outcomes have been addressed appropriately at the level concerned within

the qualifications being proposed.

It is the duty of responsible educators to ensure that this educationally sound interpretation of outcomes and competence is not neglected in a system that is socially negotiated. This imperative exists at each stage of the education and training process: standards setting, implementation and assessment and quality assurance.

Critical cross-field education and training outcomes

The Critical Cross-field Education and Training Outcomes, commonly known as the Critical Outcomes, are an additional mechanism through which coherence is achieved in the framework. These Critical Outcomes describe the qualities which the NQF identifies for development in students within the education and training system, regardless of the specific area or content of learning i.e. those outcomes that are deemed critical for the development of the capacity for life-long learning. These outcomes are intended to direct the thinking of policy makers, curriculum designers, facil- itators of learning as well as the learners themselves.

It is mandatory for standards setters to incorporate at least some of the Critical Outcomes in the standards that they recommend and proposers of qualifications must ensure that all Critical Outcomes have been addressed appropriately at the level concerned within the qualifications being proposed.

These are the Critical Outcomes adopted by SAQA:

  • Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made.
  • Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisa- tion, community.
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effec- tively.
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information.
  • Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written presentation.
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing respon- sibility towards the environment and health of others.

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  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
  • In order to contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the society at large, it must be the intention underlying any programme of learning to make an indi- vidual aware of the importance of:

– Reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effec- tively;

– Participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities;

– Being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts;

– Exploring education and career opportunities, and

– Developing entrepreneurial opportunities.

Some outcomes are specific to the qualification e.g. an electrician must know certain things. However if life-long learning is a principle underpin- ning the education and training system in our country, then the electrician must acquire certain other skills e.g. information analysis, and problem solving. If another principle underpinning the education and training system is the meaningful contribution of citizens in social institutions, by display- ing tolerance and ensuring the social and economic success of our country, it is critical that he/she has other skills e.g. working effectively with others, communication, using science and technology effectively and critically, understanding the world as a set of related systems, participating as a responsible citizen in the life of the community. Furthermore if he/she is to ensure self development, there are other skills that need to be developed e.g. managing oneself, employing strategies to learn more effectively, being cul- turally and aesthetically aware, and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities.

The intention of the education and training reforms in our society demand that learning programme developers do not give undue attention to the needs of an occupation at the expense of society’s needs and the needs of the individual. The fifth objective of the NQF reflects this i.e. to contribute to the full development of each learner and the social and economic devel- opment of the nation at large. By the same token, the so-called generalist qualifications can no longer ignore the requirements for individuals to have an occupation; nor can they ignore society’s need for its members to con- tribute fully to its processes in the economic, political and social arenas, in favour of the development of the individual.

When a qualification is registered, there is a requirement for the critical out- comes to be articulated. Therefore in developing learning programmes, they cannot be ignored. Programme developers need to ensure that the learning programmes accommodate opportunities to develop and assess the critical outcomes and in the evaluation of the delivery of the learning programme, there will be a need for a focus on the extent to which attention has been

Programme developers need to ensure that the learning programmes accommodate opportunities to

develop and assess the critical outcomes.

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A bachelor degree whether in science, the arts or commerce field is still a bachelor degree, making comparable demands on learners in the critical outcomes, regardless of the context.

given to this aspect. There is no prescription in any of the SAQA regulations or requirements of how these outcomes are to be incorporated and devel- oped. However in the description of the outcomes and the assessment crite- ria within a qualification or standard, there may be some leading indications in respect of how these critical outcomes will be assessed. Since the quali- fications and standards focus on the learning outcomes, the methodology of how the critical outcomes will be developed within context, is in the hands of the practitioners. Accredited ETQAs will have the responsibility of eval- uating the learning programmes including the assessment practices, to determine the extent to which the assessment processes meet the require- ments as stipulated in the qualification registered on the NQF, and hence how successfully the critical outcomes have been addressed.

There are some interesting points in respect of the incorporation of critical cross-field outcomes into learning programmes that need to be considered. The critical outcomes, sometimes called generic skills or essential skills or core skills, have been deemed problematic for learning programme devel- opers on two counts. The first is ‘the impossibility of decontextualising statements about core skills with any meaning’ (Wolf). Nuttall and Goldstein have summarised the problem as follows: The difficulty with such out-of-context descriptions is that they are too poorly defined to ensure comparability, and the more precisely defined they become, the more root- ed in context they become. The problem is not so much that these skills do not exist or that they cannot be identified, but rather that they are, by defi- nition, inseparable from the contexts in which they are developed and dis- played. The separation of a critical outcome from a specific outcome e.g. problem-solving in a the context of electricians work or law, does not nec- essarily give the concept independent value. The nature of problem-solving in law is different from the nature of problem-solving in electricians work. Others however would argue that regardless of context there are common features in approach, attitude, process and management that are common in all successful problem-solving contexts.

The level of complexity in respect of the critical outcomes is seen as one way of comparing qualifications and allocating qualifications and standards to levels. The level descriptor debate is hence associated with critical cross- field education and training outcomes, their definition and testing their value in a decontextualised situation. The claim is that it is impossible to assign qualifications to levels in a consistent and comparable fashion, using the critical outcomes as a means of judgement. Others say that this is possi- ble – a bachelor degree whether in science, the arts or commerce field is still a bachelor degree, making comparable demands on learners in the critical outcomes, regardless of the context.

SAQA is encouraging debate around these issues and exploration of the possibilities. A SAQA document, “Towards the development of level descriptors in the NQF: A point of departure”, which engages in some of the issues around level descriptors has been placed in the public arena, with the primary purpose of stimulating this debate.

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Integrated assessment

In the NSB regulations, integrated assessment means that form of assess- ment that permits the learner to demonstrate applied competence and which uses a range of formative and summative assessment methods.

This is one area in which SAQA has made a direct statement about how something should be done. In all other areas, SAQA has attempted to pro- vide the underpinning attitudes and principles and has purposefully avoided direct statements of how particular processes must be done or how particu- lar outcomes must be achieved. This arises from a belief that how something is done requires the expertise of learning programme developers and teacher practitioners. However, the history of assessment and how assessment results have been used in this country raise some important questions about the appropriateness of the dominant assessment model of our country and the social uses of assessment results.

SAQA in the NSB regulations, has made a direct statement about assess- ment methodology. It has indicated that integrated assessment must be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment must use a range of formative and summa- tive assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations. Too often have we heard the criticism: “he knows the theory but cannot apply his knowledge in a work situation” or “he has matric English but can’t write a letter/fill in a form!” Furthermore, some qualifications mean that a student is assessed in discrete parts and the assumption – or is a leap of faith? – is that the overall purpose of the qualification has been achieved – the whole is the sum of the parts. This assumption also assumes that the purpose of the qualification is clear.

A prime example is the Senior Certificate examination. In this process, a learner is assessed separately in six subjects, often with two or three papers within each subject. The linkages between the separate papers within a sub- ject are often not clear, and certainly the linkages between assessment in the different subjects is not clear. Furthermore there is no clear indication of the purpose of the qualification as a whole. In fact, currently it appears to serve two very different purposes. On the one hand, it serves as a school leaving examination, which is arguably a statement of achievement or minimum competence, while on the other hand, it serves as a university entrance examination, which is arguably a comment about potential for further study. Accepting that the method of assessment should fit the purpose for which the results will be used, one could argue that in the Senior Certificate assess- ment process, there are two conflicting purposes and therefore these two purposes cannot be met using the same assessment instrument.

One can debate at length the meaning of the phrase ‘a range of formative and summative assessment’ – what does formative mean in the context of a qualification? The rather worn-out cliché, of a pilot in order to be awarded a licence, must have developed the skills of taking off as well as landing illustrates the dilemma. However in this statement SAQA is drawing atten- tion to the popular trend in South Africa of conducting once-off written examinations, in order to make decisions about the award of qualifications,

Integrated assessment must be incorporated appropriately to ensure that the purpose of the qualification is achieved, and such assessment must use a range of formative and summative assessment such as portfolios, simulations, workplace assessments and also written and oral examinations.

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and rarely assessing the breadth of skills that are deemed important. Furthermore the statement supports the sentiment that learners should be provided with more than one opportunity to display their knowledge in the process of their study, since a once-off written examination does not provide students with an opportunity to find out where the gaps in their learning are; furthermore if a once-off examination is conducted at the end of the learn- ing programme there is no allowance for remediation; that learners should be provided with a variety of contexts in which to display their knowledge since a once-off written examination does not provide for the assessment of skills that are not suited to that mode of assessment .

SAQA through its standards setting and quality assurance processes will however be looking for variation from a final end-of- course written examination as the determining, qualifying assessment method.

The high failure rate among Grade 12 candidates at Senior Certificate level is witness to the need for assessment reform. Perhaps the introduction of continuous assessment systems, which should not be confused with contin- uous testing, aimed at reducing the failure rate by improving candidates chances of passing during the period of preparation, will go some way to addressing this problem. The introduction of a continuous assessment sys- tem is sometimes interpreted as a lowering of expectations or standards. It should rather be seen as a means of encouraging a system which has not given attention to assessment, to focus on the need for valid and reliable assessment which can assist learners in understanding what is expected of them. In this way it may be possible to improve the functional ability of the work force.

SAQA has been specific about the particular types of assessment e.g. port- folios. It is however up to the practitioners in the field to exercise their minds on the question of what is appropriate, feasible and manageable. SAQA through its standards setting and quality assurance processes will however be looking for variation from a final end-of-course written exami- nation as the determining, qualifying assessment method.

Integrated assessment incorporates not only foundation, practical and reflexive competence but also looks to bringing overall purpose of the qual- ification under scrutiny – to what extent have the parts produced the whole. Meg Pahad notes that improvement in assessment practice as described in assessment guidelines and policies cannot be implemented unless teachers understand why they are assessing, what they are assessing, and how to assess in a manner appropriate to the purpose of the assessment (Pg 248). The separation of assessment method from the purpose of the task and the purpose of the overall learning experience results in discrete assessment and achievement which has little or no meaning in respect of applied compe- tence.

The SAQA document “Guidelines for the assessment of NQF registered unit standards and qualifications” has been placed in the public arena. For more detailed discussion of the issues surrounding assessment, please refer to that document. Copies are available from the SAQA Offices or from the website (http://www.saqa.org.za).

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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Among the objectives of the NQF are the need to facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths as well as the need to accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in educa- tion, training and employment opportunities. SAQA is challenged to find a way in which these two objectives can be met, to find a way to recognise the learning that has taken place outside traditional learning contexts, pre- viously the only learning contexts that were formally recognised. SAQA has indicated its intention to engage its structures in the area of RPL as a means of giving practical meaning to these objectives.

Standards and qualifications are the starting points for learning programme development. These documents provide guidance for assessors in that they indicate very clearly what needs to be assessed; they provide guidance for learners in that they give a clear indication of the learning outcomes to be developed and assessed; furthermore they are a guide for facilitators of learning and learning programme developers in that the standards and qual- ifications provide the purpose for which a learning programme is being con- structed and thereby indicate how the different learning outcomes and asso- ciated assessment criteria meet the purpose.

RPL has essentially two aspects. The first is the ability for learners through RPL to be accredited with certain learning achievements. The second is the assessment of learners through RPL to gauge their potential for entry to a specific learning programme. If the objectives of facilitating access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths as well as accelerating the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, train- ing and employment opportunities are to be met, then exploring ways in which both these aspects can be addressed in learning programme design especially in respect of assessment, is critical. Traditional methods of assessment e.g. written examinations are an option for learners who have experienced learning in formal institutions. However they are not helpful for learners who have gained skills outside the formal learning institutions and often serve only to entrench barriers to progression. It is on these learn- ers that RPL pilots and research should focus.

To engage meaningfully with RPL, learning programme developers will need to engage with the rather complex issues of RPL and will need to engage in the myriad debates that surround this very challenging area, if in the delivery process, the needs of learners who have followed alternate routes to the formal education path are to be met.

Credits

In the NSB regulations, credit means that value assigned by the Authority to ten (10) notional hours of learning, and notional hours of learning means the learning time that it is conceived it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined, and includes concepts such as con- tact time, time spent in structured learning in the workplace and individ- ual learning.

RPL has essentially two aspects. The first is the ability for learners through RPL to be accredited with certain learning achievements. The second is the

assessment of learners through RPL to gauge their potential for entry to a specific learning programme.

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This concept is one that is easily mis-interpreted and frequently leads to an interpretation of qualification structure based on time spent (determined by the time historically assigned to a specific qualification) rather than an analysis of learning outcomes e.g. a two-year qualification should be on one level while a three-year qualification must be on a higher level.

The assumption then is that education – the grasping of concepts and understanding – is time bound. Hence the confusion of time arises whereby time is perceived to be a significant feature in these two concepts when in fact they are not time-related at all.

The difficulty arises from the fact that when one talks about the value in the context of a standard or qualification, one is referring to the importance that a specific aspect plays in the bigger picture of the qualification. Furthermore the level of difficulty demanded by mastery of the skills and content also has an impact on the positioning of standards or qualifications at particular lev- els and the selection of a credit weighting. The problem arises because there are no units of measurement for either of these concepts, as one has specif- ic units of measurement for more concrete concepts such as distance and speed.

What happens then, in the case of ‘important’ concepts, is that teachers indi- cate the importance to learners by spending more teaching time in the class- room on the concept, providing lots of drilling exercises, to ensure that stu- dents ‘know it’. In the case of concepts that are deemed to be difficult, teachers provide a greater length of time in their planning to enable learners to have enough time and opportunity to spend in trying to grasp the con- cepts. The assumption then is that education – the grasping of concepts and understanding – is time bound. Hence the confusion of time arises whereby time is perceived to be a significant feature in these two concepts when in fact they are not time-related at all.

The concept of notional hours of learning which result in the award of cred- its is a concept that can really upset the principle intentions of an outcomes- based system simply because it is so easily mis-understood to mean real time or contact time or actual teaching and learning time rather than a notion that incorporates two concepts that are not time-related at all i.e. level of diffi- culty and the value of the learning experience to the qualification as a whole.

Learning assumed to be in place

Because of the assumption that learning is time-bound and the traditional practice of having a fixed curriculum that all learners at an institution should follow, a further assumption is made i.e. if a student has reached a particu- lar point in learning, there are distinct assumptions that are made about his/her knowledge base. For example, a child who enters Grade 3 is assumed to have developed specific language and mathematical abilities, for example, i.e. the abilities outlined in the Grade 2 learning programme.

In reality learning theory has indicated that different learning levels are pos- sible in children of the same age and who have ostensibly been exposed to the same learning conditions. This concept becomes more marked as learn- ers move through the system. This is because children come to learning sit- uations with different experiences, they see and assimilate new knowledge differently and learn at different rates, in different ways. Hence to assume that two children who enter Grade 3 have the same understandings of the

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Grade 2 learning experience is problematic. However learning is organised into year long, module long sections and embarking on one section presup- poses uniform understanding of preceding components. To look at a picture:

Grade 4

Grade 3

Grade 2

Grade 1

Reality                          Assumption

Developments in the field of learning theory have challenged time-bound study by recognising that there are multiple intelligences, that individuals learn in different ways, that they learn at different rates. Hence the structur- al organisation of learning and hence delivery, into time-based sections is inappropriate for the diverse student body that education systems have to accommodate. The assumption that time is a determining factor in the acquisition of knowledge and mastery of skills needs to be confronted.

Many argue however that organising learning into time-based sections reflect- ing the academic year or term is the only feasible way in which to manage learning of a large mass of students; formal institutions need to be organised so that a structured time-table for delivery and assessment can be instituted.

To look at this from another angle then, one cannot ignore the impractical nature of formal institutions for providing experience in real-life situations. This is recognised in fields like medicine, law, accounting and teaching where programmes of learning require that students spend time in actual work environments: the internship year for doctors, articles for aspiring lawyers and accountants, teaching practice in schools for student teachers. This is a tacit acknowledgement that formal institutions provide only one perspective on the nature of learning while the world of work provides another. It is not only the world of work that can provide learning opportu- nities, but also participation in community service. The point is that if one accepts that life-long learning embraces the concept that learning takes place all through one’s life, in a variety of contexts which provide alterna- tive perspectives on the apparent truths that are gathered in formal study in a structured environment, then one must accept that there are multiple sites

Developments in the field of learning theory have challenged time- bound study by recognising that there are multiple intelligences, that individuals learn in different ways, that they learn at different rates.

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CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

of learning and that relevant learning achieved outside the walls of formal institutions needs formal recognition as valid learning experiences. For this reason to assume that learning must be organised and hence delivered in time-based modules because that is the best way for formal institutions to be organised, is to deny the existence of other sites and ways of learning. As Kathy Luckett points out, “the need to accommodate the notion of life-long learning mean(s) that this qualification structure predicated on a ‘year- cohort model’ has become anachronistic. The need to reorganise our insti- tutional time and space (curriculum structure) has become critical”

“The need to accommodate the notion of life-long learning mean(s) that this qualification structure predicated on a ‘year-cohort model’ has become anachronistic. The

need to reorganise our institutional time and space (curriculum structure) has become critical”

Learning programme developers would be wise to take cognisance of the reality that learners learn differently and come to a learning experience with different levels of understanding and build in appropriate assessment processes to assess what students know rather than assess what they do not know, and avoid making assumptions about their knowledge base. Teaching strategies naturally should also take this reality into account. In fact, it could be argued that the successful implementation of the NQF requires that these assumptions are made explicit, so that learners and teachers can work together to ensure the achievement of all learning outcomes deemed neces- sary – Spady’s principle of high expectation.

Conclusion

I

n  conclusion  the  following  observation  is  relevant.  The  past  South African education system, including those schools and institutions that have been recognised for academic excellence internationally, did not nec- essarily produce critically aware citizens: the span of the apartheid era is sufficient witness to this. On the broader front, one cannot ignore the com- mon experience of many learners which is witness to educationally unsound practices. A recent report on the state of the South African workforce in the Sunday Times Business Times (5/12/99) seems to substantiate this. In the article ‘Skills Shortages in the SA Labour Market’ it was reported that 76% of the 273 organisations surveyed, didn’t have adequate skilled human resources; 54% of organisations needing engineers have experienced prob- lems in recruiting these professionals; 50% of those organisations which employ IT professionals have shortages; there are specific shortages in mathematics and mathematics-related occupations. This report on skills within the current labour force reflects the problems of our past; there has not been enough time to test the initiatives of the democratic government. Often criticism of the new is characterised by a suggestion that the ways of the past are tried and tested; that what has been done provided quality edu- cation; that the current programmes which are based on past practice, deliv- er people with the skills that are needed in our society. The current situation in South Africa as described in this report is a product of a system that clear- ly did not deliver for the majority of learners in the country. It is the respon- sibility of every South African to acknowledge this and dedicate themselves

to finding better ways of doing things.

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References

  • Foxcroft C D, Elkonin D S, and Kota P: Undergraduate Training: The Development and Implementation of an Outcomes-based Degree Programme in Psychology, paper presented at a workshop on the NQF and Higher Education Institutions, (Oct-Nov, 1997)
  • Luckett, K: Towards  a  Model  of  Curriculum  Development  for  the

University of Natal’s Curriculum Reform project, (unpublished paper)

  • The SAQA Act (No. 58 of 1995) – Government Gazette No. 1521 (4

October 1995)

  • The NSB Regulations – Government Gazette No. 18787 (28 March

1998)

  • The ETQA Regulations – Government Gazette No. 19231 (8 September

1998)

  • The NQF: An overview, a SAQA publication February (2000)
  • Cornbleth C: Curriculum in context, New York, Falmer Press 1990
  • Gibbons M et al: The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies, California, Sage, 1994
  • Wolf A: Assessing  Core  Skills:  wisdom  or  wild  goose  chase?, Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 21, No2, 1991
  • Bellis I: The Quality of the Journey: The NQF and the provision of learning programmes and courses (unpublished)
  • Curriculum Framework for GET and FET, Dept. of Education, 1996
  • Spady W: Outcomes-based education: The way forward, a presentation to the Western Cape Education Department (Video)
  • Spady W: Outcomes-based Education: Critical Issues and Answers The

American Association of School Administrators, 1994

  • Gordon A: Curriculum Frameworks for the General Phase of Education

Centre for Education Policy Development, 1995

  • Edited: Jansen J  and  Christie  P:  Changing  Curriculum:  Studies  on

Outcomes-based Education in South Africa Juta and Co., 1999

  • Vroeijenstein A I:  Improvement  and  Accountability:  Navigating between Scylla and Charybdis: Guide for external quality assessment in higher education Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1995

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CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

Appendix  A

PUTTING THE FIVE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA) “LIFE-ROLE  APPLICATION” CRITICAL OUTCOMES INTO ACTION

(Integrated with the Spady “Total Learner” Framework) Developed by Des Collier and William Spady

The Delta Foundation Enterprising Youth and OBE Initiatives

Capable Entrepreneurial Life-Role Performers (Creative

Learners) Are:

Resourceful, future-focused Opportunity Creators, guided by an ethos of initiative and innovation, who:

  • Independently collect, analyze, organize, and critically evaluate emerg- ing trends and possibilities in various fields for their entrepreneurial potential.
  • Routinely look beyond conventional approaches and understandings to reveal the unexplored potential in all life situations.
  • Purposefully locate and assess information on current and emerging work and income-generating opportunities and create innovative ways to capitalize on them.
  • Continuously assess existing business practices and propose innovative ways to expand and improve them.
  • Adeptly use any available resources to legitimately generate personal and community income.

Capable Career Life-Role Performers (Performance Learners) Are:

Adept, productive Career Performers, guided by an ethos of diligence and quality, who:

  • Consistently set high performance goals for themselves and work until they are accomplished.
  • Independently research the challenges that career professionals face in their fields and the standards they must maintain to be successful.

28                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

  • Consistently use these professional standards and the most advanced methods in their fields to assess and complete their work.
  • Gather and effectively utilize the people, resources, and technologies need for accomplishing projects successfully within agreed-upon time and resource constraints.
  • Periodically update a portfolio of their strongest personal aptitudes, technical skills, and accomplishments and present it to potential employers for evaluation.

Capable Personal Life-Role Performers (Inner Learners) Are:

Conscientious, self-directed Life Managers, guided by an ethos of reflection and improvement, who:

  • Insightfully assess  their  unique  personal  qualities  and  explain  how strengthening them will open doors to continued learning and life suc- cess.
  • Perceptively identify the ways they learn best and consistently employ them as tools for on-going growth and improvement.
  • Consistently probe new information, ideas, and experiences for their deeper meaning and connection to their desired quality of life.
  • Regularly initiate and sustain endeavors that strengthen their skills, health, quality of life, and opportunities for advancement.
  • Consistently manage their time to allow for regular periods of study, exercise, and self-improvement in their daily lives.
  • Sensibly select and consume foods and nutrients that contribute to their long-term health and well-being.
  • Consistently make prudent financial planning and personal expenditure decisions.

Capable Peer Life-Role Performers (Collaborative Learners) Are:

Forthright, collaborative Team Members, guided by an ethos of honesty and reliability, who:

  • Actively develop joint projects with their peers in which plans and responsibilities are clearly defined, equitably shared, and reliably car- ried out by all members.
  • Adeptly apply leadership skills and knowledge of effective teamwork to accomplish team goals.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT        T H E   N A T I O N A L   Q U A L I F I C A T I O N S   F R A M E W O R K

  • Consistently fulfil commitments, without excuses, and support others in doing the same.
  • Actively listen to the intent and spirit of others’ words and consistently offer them constructive feedback and suggestions when appropriate.
  • Skilfully use a variety of means and strategies to communicate clearly in all situations.
  • Consciously take into account the interests and viewpoints of all parties in openly airing disagreements, and consistently work to resolve them ethically and equitably.

Capable Citizen Life-Role Performers (Service Learners) Are:

Active, responsible Community Contributors, guided by an ethos of caring and commitment, who:

  • Sensitively address the country’s problems by respecting and advocat- ing the democratic rights of all.
  • Consistently stand firm in the face of challenges and pressures in advo- cating causes affecting the common good.
  • Freely devote their time, talents, and knowledge to improving the envi- ronment and the health and well-being of others.
  • Actively work with others in their community to maintain or improve the quality of understanding and living in the world around them.
  • Persistently seek  and  employ  ways  to  address  and  solve  problems affecting the well being of their local communities and global environ- ment.

For more information on using the SAQA Critical Outcomes framework creatively and productively, on Transformational Outcome-Based Education, or on the Delta Foundation’s Enterprising Youth and OBE Initiatives, phone Des Collier in South Africa at 083-269-4242, or William Spady in the U.S. at 970-262-1935.

30                                      A publication of the South African Qualifications Authority

The Delta Foundation

Enterprising Youth Initiative – Curriculum Planning

Enabling Outcomes Making success happen
Acting

Entrepreneurially

12

Applying

Career Expertise

11

Working

Together

1

Applying

Myself Fully

3,8

Creating a

Better World

6,9

Thinking and Orientations

7,10

Creative Qualitative Empathic Ethical Systemic
Mastering Essential

Knowledge

Mastering Specific Skills
Communicating Effectively

5

Using Maths Effectively
Using smart Technologies

6

Making Strategic Decisions

1,4

Resourceful, future-focused Opportunity Creators who… Adept, productive Career Performers who… Forthright, collaborative Team Members who… Conscientious, self-directed Life Managers who… Active, responsible Community Contributors who…

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Download a copy directly form the SAQA Website:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2002/rpl_sanqf.pdf

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context

of the South African National Qualifications Framework

P0LICY DOCUMENT

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the

South African

National Qualifications Framework

THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY

Please refer any queries in writing to:

The Executive Officer

SAQA

Attention:  The Director: Quality Assurance and Development

RE:           Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Postnet Suite 248

Private Bag X06

BROOKLYN

0145

Pretoria

SOUTH AFRICA

e-mail:     

Website: www.saqa.org.za

Adopted by the South African Qualifications Authority on 12 June 2002

Decision SAQA 0242/02

ISBN: 0-9584572-1-2

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction  and Development

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the funder

Table of Contents

Acronyms and abbreviations used in this document                     4

Terms and definitions                                                                        5

Executive summary                                                                            7

Structure of the document                                                9

Chapter 1:     Underlying principles and philosophy

Introduction                                                                    11

1.1   A holistic approach to the process and execution

of assessment                                                       11

1.2   A developmental and incremental approach to

the implementation of RPL                                     12

1.3   The differing contexts within which RPL are implemented 13

1.4   Opening up of access to education and training

and redress of past injustices                                 14

1.5   The dynamic nature of the construction of

knowledge in a mature system                                 15

Chapter 2:     Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL

Introduction                                                                    17

2.1   Institutional policy and environment 18
2.2   Services and support to learners 20
2.3   Training and registration of assessors and key personnel 22
2.4   Methods and processes of assessment 24
2.5   Quality Management Systems 26
2.6   Fees for RPL services 28
2.7   RPL and Curriculum Development 29
Summary 30
Chapter 3: A strategic framework for implementation

Introduction

31
3.1   Strategic framework 32
3.2   Conclusion 32
Appendix A: Example of a generic RPL process 33
Appendix B: Unit standards 35
Appendix C: Models and issues for practice 47

List of sources                                                                                 52

Acronyms and abbreviations used in this document

APL                  Assessment of Prior Learning

APEL                Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning CAEL    Council for Adult and Experiential Learning CETA        Construction Education and Training Authority COSATU             Congress of South African Trade Unions

CTP                  Committee of Technikon Principals

DTI                   Department of Trade and Industry

ETQA               Education and Training Quality Assurance body

EVC                 Erkennen van elders of informeel Verworven Competenties

FET                  Further Education and Training FNTI                 First Nations Technical Institute HE                    Higher Education

HEQC               Higher Education Quality Committee

MEIETB           Metal and Engineering Industries Education and Training Board

MERSETA        Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and

Training Authority

NGO                 Non-governmental organisation NQF           National Qualifications Framework NSA        National Skills Authority

NSB                  National Standards Body

NUM                National Union of Mineworkers

NUMSA           National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

PLA                  Prior Learning Assessment

PLAR               Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

QMS                 Quality Management Systems

RPL                  Recognition of Prior Learning

SAQA               South African Qualifications Authority SETA          Sector Education and Training Authority SGB        Standards Generating Body

SMME              Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises

4                                                   The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Terms and definitions

Assessment is the process of gathering and weighing evidence in order to determine whether learners have demonstrated outcomes specified in unit standards and/or qualifications registered on the NQF. The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Plan and conduct assessment of learning outcomes’ outlines the process in detail. The management of assessment is the responsibility of providers.

Moderation is the process of ensuring that assessments have been conducted in line with agreed practices, and are fair, reliable and valid. The generic assessor standard registered by SAQA entitled ‘Moderate assessment ’ outlines the process in detail. One moderator usually checks the work of several assessors to ensure consistency. The management of moderation is the responsibility of the provider.

Verification is the process by which the recommendations from the provider about the award of credits or qualifications to learners are checked. The generic assessor standard ‘Verify moderation of assessment’ registered by SAQA, outlines this process in detail. It is an ETQA function to verify the claims of providers that assessment has been properly conducted and moderated.

Evidence facilitation is the process by which candidates are assisted to produce and organise evidence for the purpose of assessment. It is not an essential part of every assessment process, but is useful in many contexts, including RPL. The generic assessor standard

‘Facilitate  the  preparation  and  presentation  of  assessment  evidence  by  candidates’

currently being generated by the SGB outlines this process in detail.

RPL advice and support services are additional services needed for effective RPL which are not covered by the assessor standard or the evidence facilitator standard. These focus on assisting learners to make effective choices about available programmes, career and work related opportunities. Practitioners require a thorough knowledge of the relevant economic sector. They should be trained to identify skills, knowledge and other attributes developed outside formal knowledge systems, and to interact with cultural sensitivity.

Constituent means belonging to the defined or delegated constituency of an organisation or body referred to in the SAQA ETQA Regulations. ETQAs have constituent providers, constituent learners and constituent assessors.

Registered constituent assessor and moderator means a person who is registered by the relevant  ETQA in accordance  with  criteria  established  for this  purpose  by SAQA to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications. All ETQAs must have a register of assessors; they may also wish to have similar registers of moderators and verifiers.

Registered  constituent  verifiers  means  persons  placed  on  an  official  register  by  the relevant ETQA after meeting agreed criteria. Constituent verifiers may be contracted by the ETQA to carry out verification activities on its behalf in relation to the achievement of

specified National Qualifications Framework standards or qualifications.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                                5

Executive summary

Executive summary

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in South Africa is critical to the development of an equitable education and training system. As such a policy to develop and facilitate implementation of RPL across all sectors of education and training is critical and should be carefully constructed. An RPL policy should meet the needs of all the role players, including Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs), providers1  of education and training, constituents of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and most importantly, the main beneficiaries of the process, the learners. This policy document has as its main audience the ETQAs who must facilitate the implementation of RPL and quality assure assessment policies of their constituent providers.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is defined in the National Standards Bodies Regulations

(No 18787 of 28 March 1998, issued in terms of the SAQA Act 58 of 1995) as follows:

“Recognition  of prior learning means the comparison of the previous learning and experience of a learner howsoever obtained against the learning outcomes required for a specified qualification, and the acceptance for purposes of qualification of that which meets the requirements”.

This definition makes clear a number of principles in the development and execution of RPL:

  • Learning occurs in all kinds of situations – formally, informally and non-formally;
  • Measurement of the learning takes place against specific learning outcomes required for a specific qualification; and
  • Credits are awarded for such learning if it meets the requirements of the qualification.

Therefore, the process of recognising prior learning is about:

  • Identifying what the candidate2 knows and can do;
  • Matching the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience to specific standards and the associated assessment criteria of a qualification;
  • Assessing the candidate against those standards; and
  • Crediting the candidate for skills, knowledge and experience built up through formal, informal and non-formal learning that occurred in the past.

1       “Providers” refers to all types of institutions offering education and training, including formal universities, technikons, colleges, examination and assessment bodies, workplace-based training centres and single purpose and SMME providers.

2       “Candidate” is the term used for a person who is claiming credits against a particular unit standard or qualification and is therefore not enrolled in a formal programme, as opposed to ‘learner’, who is assumed to be involved in a formal education or training programme.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                               7

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

As  the  body  responsible  for  the  development  of  the  National  Qualifications  Framework (NQF), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) articulates some of the key objectives of the NQF in this policy. The NQF objectives particularly relevant to RPL include:

  • Facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths; and
  • Accelerate redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities.

These two objectives highlight the two main purposes of RPL, namely access and redress. The RPL policy explains these purposes in the differing contexts within which Recognition of Prior Learning may take place.

However, it should be noted that there is no fundamental difference in the assessment of previously acquired skills and knowledge and the assessment of skills and knowledge acquired through a current learning programme. The candidate seeking credits for previously acquired skills and knowledge must still comply with all the requirements as stated in unit standards or qualifications. The difference lies in the route to the assessment. RPL is a form of assessment, which ideally, should be fully integrated into all learning programmes. As such, the principles of good assessment are equally true for RPL and all other forms of assessment. This includes taking a holistic view of the process of assessment, where the context of the learning, as well as the context of the person who is being assessed is taken into account.

This policy document adheres in a logical sequence to the SAQA document Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (SAQA, October 2001). It should be read with other relevant documents such as:

  • Criteria and Guidelines for ETQAs (SAQA, October 2001); and
  • Criteria and Guidelines for Providers (SAQA, October 2001).

The policy addresses the following key roles and functions of ETQAs:

(a) Accredit constituent providers for specific standards or qualifications registered on the

National Qualifications Framework;

(b) Promote quality amongst constituent providers; (c) Monitor provision by constituent providers; and

(d) Evaluate assessment and facilitate moderation among constituent providers.

Recognition of Prior Learning should be an integrated feature of the assessment policies of ETQAs and their constituent providers and not an ‘add-on’ procedure. However, it is clear from both local and international experiences of RPL that the principles of equity, access and redress are objectives that need an explicit translation into practice if they are to be met. This policy provides direction and support for an evolving system of RPL that will be able to set the required standards to meet the challenges of social, economic and human development. At the same time it will contribute to the overall quality and integrity of standards and qualifications  registered  on  the  National  Qualifications  Framework.  A set  of  specialised criteria has been developed for this purpose (discussed in Chapter 2).

8                                                   The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Executive summary

Finally, the key challenge for the implementation of an RPL policy in South Africa is the sustainability of such a system. It would be short-sighted to suggest that RPL has a redress function only and therefore may have a relatively limited lifespan. As the South African education and training system matures, increasingly RPL will support the principle of lifelong learning. This will ensure that a nation’s people are encouraged to develop and improve their skills continuously to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Structure of the document

Chapter 1 deals with the underlying principles and philosophy underpinning assessment and RPL;

Chapter 2 deals with the core criteria for quality assurance of assessment and RPL; and Chapter 3 deals with the strategic framework for implementation  of RPL in South Africa. Appendices A, B and C are included for clarification.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                               9

Underlying principles and philosophy    1

Chapter 1

Underlying principles and philosophy

Introduction

Recognition of Prior Learning in South Africa has, unlike similar initiatives in other countries, a very specific  agenda.  RPL is meant  to support  transformation of the education  and training system of the country.

This calls for an approach to the development of RPL policy and practices that explicitly addresses the visible and invisible barriers to learning and assessment. Such an approach must generate the commitment of all role players to remove these barriers and to build a visible, usable and credible system as an effective and creative vehicle for lifelong learning.  It  is  important  that  consensus  be  generated  around  the  criteria  and  support systems within which the integrity and quality of all assessments will be protected. At the same time, the opportunities and benefits of RPL need to be extended to all learners and stakeholders. It is also imperative that a viable, sustainable and credible system is built for RPL.

While it is recognised that transforming education and training is not the responsibility of RPL

alone, in the context of this policy, transformation encapsulates:

  • A holistic approach to the process and execution of assessment;
  • A developmental and incremental approach to the implementation of RPL, particularly in terms of sustainability;
  • An acknowledgement of the differing contexts within which RPL will be implemented;
  • Opening up of access to education and training;
  • Redress of past injustices; and
  • An acknowledgement of the dynamic nature of the construction of knowledge that will come into play as the system matures.

1.1    A holistic approach to the process and execution of assessment

In many ways, a holistic approach represents the ideal, the vision for the transformation of assessment, and therefore for RPL in South Africa. It incorporates the principles of good assessment, i.e. fairness, validity, reliability and practicability (as discussed in Chapter 3 of the Criteria and Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications, SAQA, October 2001). But it also reflects the need to look for the intrinsic, rather than extrinsic value of someone’s learning within a particular context and the ways in which some forms of knowledge are privileged. The question that we need to answer is how to redefine, systematically and consciously, which knowledge3  is valued. This is to ensure that

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             11

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

both old and new forms of discrimination are avoided and to mediate knowledge transfer across contexts.

A holistic approach to RPL therefore attempts to prevent assessment from becoming a purely technical application, dislocated from a particular individual and broader context.

The following are the key elements of a holistic approach to assessment. A holistic approach:

  • Is deeply committed to the development and maintenance of assessment systems that

protect the integrity of standards, qualifications and institutions;

  • Subscribes to the principles and values of human development and lifelong learning.

As such it consciously supports the social purposes of RPL in relation to access, equity and redress,  and  strives  to  implement  assessments  in  a  manner  that  promotes  dignity, confidence and educational opportunities;

  • Is learner-centred  and  developmental  where  assessments  are  not  used  to  penalise candidates for what they do not know, but to shape and form decisions around educational planning and career-pathing;
  • Allocates a high  priority  to learner-centred  support  systems that  will  assist  in the preparation for assessment;
  • Seeks to address the context and conditions that inform the practice. This means taking steps to remove the emotional, educational and cultural factors that may constitute barriers to effective learning and assessment practice;
  • Promotes the principle of flexibility in the use of assessment methods and instruments in accordance with the rights of candidates to participate in the selection and use of ‘fit for purpose’ assessment methods;
  • Recognises the rich diversity of knowledge and learning styles, which candidates bring into an assessment situation;
  • Recognises that RPL should ideally be the first step into a learning programme that will build on the skills and knowledge already recognised and credited;
  • Takes as its starting point the standpoint of critical theory, which challenges the social and structural conditioning of the curriculum, institutions and related opportunities for adult learners4 in formal education; and
  • Will increasingly challenge the construction and content of qualifications to be more inclusive of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that are acquired outside formal institutions of learning in society.

1.2    A developmental and incremental approach to the implementation  of RPL

In order to achieve the holistic ideal realistically, the transformation of education and training needs  to  take  place  incrementally.  This  means  focusing  on  RPL  as  a  category  of assessment requiring a high degree of flexibility, sensitivity and specialisation while, as far as

3       The “knowledge”  refers to “workers’ knowledge, women’s knowledge and indigenous knowledge” which in the past were not consciously included in curricula and learning programmes.

4       The term “adult learners” is used as a reference to the majority of learners, including out of school youth, whose primary mode of learning is non-for- mal and experiential.

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Underlying principles and philosophy    1

possible, making use of existing infrastructure and resources. RPL policies must be integrated into existing processes, structures and projects. Much thought must be given to the provision of candidate support and candidate preparation, as well as to preparation of assessment methods,  instruments  and  administrative  systems  to  support  the  process  and  protect  the integrity of the results.

A developmental and incremental approach gives providers of education and training the space to explore and experiment with implementation of the policy. This supports the need for institutions and sectors to retain their autonomy and to develop implementation plans within the constraints of their organisations while meeting the agreed requirements of the framework and criteria indicated in the policy.

Most importantly, a developmental and incremental approach pre-supposes implementation plans with sustainability targets against which the system measures its progress towards the objectives of the plan. Education and Training Quality Assurance bodies (ETQAs) will have an important role to play in facilitating and monitoring the progress towards full implementation of RPL.

1.3    The differing contexts within which RPL are implemented

The contexts within which RPL are practised are as varied as the candidates seeking credits for learning achieved. RPL is practised in the Higher Education and Training (HET), Further Education and Training (FET) and General Education and Training (GET) Bands and in Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET), in formal institutions of learning, as well as at workplace-based  education  and  training  centres  and  by  small  private  single  purpose providers.

In addition, RPL is done against unit standard-based qualifications, as well as against the learning outcomes of non-unit standard based qualifications. Qualifications based on unit standards  and  non-unit  standard  based  qualifications  are  equally  valid  expressions  of outcomes-based education. Perpetuating the division between these two types of qualification would be an unwarranted position. It is much more important to establish ways in which articulation between vocationally oriented, professional and academic qualifications can take place to facilitate the development of multiple learning pathways. Therefore, it goes without saying that the contexts within which RPL is practised will be linked to the varied purposes for embarking on a process of Recognition of Prior Learning.

These purposes include the following options:

  • Personal development and/or certification of current skills without progression into a learning programme, if the candidate so chooses;
  • Progression into a learning programme, using RPL to fast-track progression through the learning programme;
  • Promotion; and
  • Career or job change.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

RPL practice therefore cannot take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. However, all RPL practice will be measured against the agreed criteria (discussed in Chapter 2), which are considered the core, the basis upon which all RPL systems are developed.

It is therefore acknowledged that providers of education and training will have very different strategies in implementing RPL and that these strategies will be closely linked to the target group for which the system is developed.

1.4    Opening up of access to education and training and redress of past injustices

Two distinct target groups identified in the policy are those candidates seeking access to further education possibilities, and those seeking redress.

In terms of access, the target group may be under-qualified adult learners (such as teachers or nurses), with some level of professional education wanting to up-skill and improve their qualifications. It may also include candidates lacking the minimum requirements for entry into a formal  learning  programme  (e.g. matriculation  endorsement).  Certainly,  at the level  of Higher Education (HE), access to a programme will be the objective of an overwhelming majority who apply for RPL, but it will also include those candidates seeking certification as an end in itself.

The entry of learners to HE via non-traditional routes encourages the recognition of diverse forms of knowledge and participation. This can greatly enrich the learning experience of all involved in a programme. For these candidates to be able to achieve the kind of knowledge, skills and competencies required for progression and mobility, a particular quality and level of engagement with programmes is required. They have to be able to engage properly with programmes at higher levels in terms of the breadth, depth and complexity required. Since a certain level of academic ability can be assumed on their part, strategies such as ‘advanced standing’, ‘extended curricula’, bridging, foundation and/or access programmes are appropriate for them.

These options are likely to be practiced by formal institutions of education and training such as universities, technikons and other further and higher education institutions. The support and orientation of these candidates will be in line with the type of support currently offered to learners at such institutions.

The target group requiring redress is entirely different. These candidates may be on the shop floor, in workplaces, or may be semi-skilled and unemployed. They may have worked for many years and have gained experience in specific areas, but were prevented from developing and  growing  because  of  the  education  and  training  policies  of  the  past.  Possibly  such candidates will have low levels of education. In this target group the focus of RPL may be certification as an end in itself, rather than access to further education and training (although this  may  also  be  a  purpose).  It  would  grant  recognition  for  their  contribution  to  the development  of  the  country  and  validate  their  personal  worth  and  value  their  worth  as

14                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Underlying principles and philosophy    1

employees. The strategies used here may include assessment against small, distinct ‘chunks’ of learning, and will include the very necessary support and orientation services mentioned in the criteria (Chapter 2).

In the cases of both access and redress, the primary NQF objective is to “contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large”.

A third group, not so clearly delineated, includes candidates who, having exited formal education  either  prematurely  or  at  the  end  of  a formal  programme,  built  up  substantial amounts of learning over a number of years through attending short learning programmes. These programmes (short courses or skills programmes) are a viable and a common method of gaining meaningful learning for optimal workplace functioning. They facilitate access to learning in a manageable manner, particularly in terms of cost, time and energy. Candidates should be able to attain credits towards qualifications for this type of learning. This is in line with the position of skills programmes in the system and it is foreseeable that qualifications can be achieved via this ‘lifelong learning’ route. Increasingly, RPL will become a mechanism for recognising the skills, knowledge and values thus acquired.

1.5    The dynamic nature of the construction of knowledge in a mature system

The maturing education and training system of South Africa will increasingly require institutions to question and reshape fundamental values, beliefs and paradigms to force the

‘negotiation of two worlds – the world of experience and the world of the academic’ (Osman et al, 2001). It will encourage providers to become not only sites of learning, that define and construct knowledge, but also places where people examine and engage with the context of knowledge creation. The education and training system should seek a meeting place for the different traditions of knowledge emanating from different sites of practice.

Deciding how to compare the conceptual understanding that a RPL candidate needs to demonstrate with what is required for specified outcomes, should be possible, rather than being overly concerned about literal matching. It will not be necessary, as assessors become experienced and the system has proven itself to be credible, to look for total correspondence between a qualification (or unit standard) and a candidate’s prior learning – rough equivalence will do.

In the future, it should be possible to move away from the idea of RPL as being solely a comparison of experience against learning outcomes for a specified qualification, to include a comparison between learning and expertise common to a range of qualifications at a particular level of the NQF. This would mean moving away from a purely technical approach to a holistic approach. The complexity and depth of learning to be recognised in communities of practice outside formal education would have to be taken into account. So would the different ways in which adult learners are differently prepared for entry into learning programmes.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

A holistic approach, looking at equivalence in terms of complexity and depth of learning required for a qualification will take into account the nature and form of experiential learning of adults, challenging the ‘standards’ of those who work largely in formal institutions of learning with young learners coming from the school system.

Chapter 2 will address the core criteria against which the progress towards the development of an assessment and RPL system can be measured.

16                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

2

Chapter 2

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL

Introduction

Recognition of Prior Learning is one of the principles underpinning the objectives of the NQF. In the SAQA publication Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), RPL is described as follows:

“To, through assessment, give credit to learning which has already been acquired in different ways”.

In the legislation, regulations and criteria and guidelines documents, RPL is put forward as one of the key strategies of the emerging education and training system to ensure equitable access to education and training and redress of past unjust educational practices.

Assessment for the Recognition of Prior Learning is, as mentioned before, and, as for any assessment, subject to the following principles:

  • Credible assessment;
  • The quality of the evidence;
  • An assessment planned and designed on the basis of understanding the requirements of the

unit standard, part qualification or whole qualification;

  • The use of various methods and instruments;
  • The requirements for a credible assessment process; and
  • Moderation and quality assurance of assessments.

(Paraphrased from Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications: October 2001.)

In particular, this chapter will deal with ways in which Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs) can ensure that their constituent providers’ assessment policies integrate and implement RPL. This is in accordance with the requirements for ETQAs.5

As mentioned in the Introduction to Chapter 1 (Underlying principles and philosophy), the visible and invisible barriers to learning and assessment must be acknowledged and strategies must be developed to deal with these. Therefore, as much as RPL is an integrated part of assessment (and will increasingly become part of teaching and learning practice), it is highlighted in this policy as a form of assessment needing particular attention.

5 Refer to the ETQA Regulations, No R1127 of 8 September 1998.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The following criteria (2.1 – 2.7) have been formulated as a guide for a system of quality assurance in respect of RPL services offered by education and training providers, but they are also true for the quality assurance of assessment policies in general.

The areas of practice are discussed individually. Each area is described by a quality statement, and is followed by an example of a self-audit tool, which may be expanded for use by the ETQAs, but may also be used by providers, both in terms of formal institutions and workplace- based providers, to measure their progress against agreed targets.

The areas of practice include:

  • Institutional policy and environment;
  • Services and support to learners;
  • Training and registration of assessors and key personnel;
  • Methods and processes of assessment;
  • Quality Management Systems (moderation);
  • Fees for RPL services; and
  • RPL and curriculum development.

2.1    Institutional policy and environment

This area of practice highlights the fact that an enabling environment demonstrating commitment to RPL is essential. Unless proper policies, structures and resources are allocated to a credible assessment process, it can easily become an area of contestation and conflict. Assessment practice is a critical aspect in the emerging education and training system and therefore needs explicit discussion and guidelines. Please refer to SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001).6

6       The “Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications” must be read with the RPL policy. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the contents thereof.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Institutional policy and environment

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Institutional policy and environment

There  is  a  shared  commitment   on  the  part  of  ETQAs, accredited  constituent   providers  and workplaces  to provide enabling environments for learning and assessment (inclusive of close co- operation between administration, learning facilitators, evidence facilitators, advisors, assessors, moderators, professional organisations, employers, trade unions and communities, where appropriate).

Y N U
The assessment policy expresses an explicit commitment  to the principles of equity, redress and inclusion
The assessment policy  reflects  planning and management  in accordance with relevant legislation and policy
Information   about   assessment  opportunities   and  services  are  widely available and actively promoted
Admission procedures and systems are accessible and inclusive of learners with diverse needs and backgrounds
Equal access to opportunities  to advice, support, time and resources for all candidates seeking assessment
Organisational structures ensure that evidence facilitators, assessors and moderators and other key personnel, such as advisors, are given sufficient support, resources and recognition for their services
Regional integration  and collaboration  are encouraged among institutions, professional bodies and workplaces, where possible
Formal agreements between ETQAs, providers and workplaces are encouraged to ensure effective validation, articulation and recognition of assessment results, where possible

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.2    Services and support to learners/candidates

Services and support to learners/candidates form part of pre-assessment advice and counseling (refer to the generic RPL process in Appendix A). This may include preparation for the assessment itself, educational planning and post-assessment support. This service is not dissimilar  from  services  offered  by  suitably  trained  career  guidance  counselors  or  other advisors who are part of ‘student services’ offered at institutions. At workplaces, these type of services could be offered by trained human resource practitioners, line managers or suitably qualified education and training practitioners. As far as possible, a separate infrastructure should not be established for RPL for the following reasons:

  • Credits awarded to learners/candidates through the process of RPL are equal to credits awarded to learners in formal full-time learning programmes. RPL should not be marginalised as the easy, second-best route to obtain credits. Establishing a separate infrastructure to deal with RPL may create this impression; and
  • Services and  support  to  candidates  are  not  unlike  the  support  offered  to  adult learners in full-time study, taking into account the need for flexible learning environments for adults facing the pressures of work and study.

However, the danger of underestimating the levels of disempowerment and dislocation that decades  of  discriminatory  education  and  training  policies  and  practices  had  on  ordinary citizens, and the unfamiliarity with formal academic study, (particularly in Higher Education), cannot be ignored. Therefore the support services should consciously address the invisible barriers to successful assessment. This may include a re-alignment of existing academic development programmes to suit the needs of adult learners, advising programmes, assistance with identifying equivalencies and preparation for assessment. This may also include dealing with the very significant anxieties, traumas and non-technical barriers that arise when adult learners enter the RPL arena. The inclusion of advising and counseling services to complement evidence facilitation and assessment should be an important principle in the provision of RPL services.

Learner/candidate support structures are critical as a preventative measure, i.e. as a measure to enhance the success rate of candidates. This is true not only for adult learners and RPL candidates, but also for learners involved in full-time study programmes. This is in line with the current thinking in terms of the requirements for accreditation as a provider of education and training, and as such will be an aspect of the teaching and learning environment that must be quality assured7.

7       Please refer to Criterion 6 and 7 of ‘Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers’ (SAQA: October 2001) for more information on the criteria for accreditation and an Education and Training Providers.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Services and support to learners/candidates

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Services and support to learners/candidates

Through properly conducted evidence facilitation8, advice and other support services, including assistance in dealing with personal, social and technical barriers to assessment and preparation of evidence, candidates are able to see how to use the process of RPL to achieve their personal, educational and career goals.

Y N U
Advising  services  and  programmes   assist  learners/candidates   to  make effective choices about learning programmes, career and work-related opportunities
Advising   programmes   and  services  provide   assistance   to  learners/

candidates in preparing for assessment

Support  services  attempt  to  remove  time,  place  and  other  barriers  to assessment
Evidence facilitators assist candidates in preparing and presenting evidence in a coherent and systematic fashion
Structured  short  learning programmes  or articulation-based programmes are increasingly available where required

8       Please refer to the proposed unit standard for ‘Evidence facilitation’ included as Appendix B.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.3    Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

The training and orientation of assessors and other staff involved in assessment has been identified as a critical component for the success of implementing the principles and objectives of the NQF. According to Chapter 5 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), the role of the assessor in an Outcomes Based Education and Training (OBET) system has changed significantly. The role of the assessors9  is to:

  • Inform the candidate about the requirements of qualifications or unit standards;
  • Support and guide the candidate in the collection of evidence;
  • Help the candidate plan for the assessment;
  • Inform the candidate about the timing of the assessment; and
  • Conduct the assessment and provide feedback.

The role of the assessor is clearly expressed in the assessor standard, ASSMT01: “Plan and

Conduct Assessment of Learning” (included in Appendix B).

For the purposes of RPL, this role has been refined and expanded, but it does not mean that it could not be the same person fulfilling the roles of both facilitating the identification of the evidence, and assessing the evidence. Each task, i.e. ‘evidence facilitation’, ‘assessment’ and

‘advice’, is distinctive, and should ideally be performed by different people to avoid potential conflict of interest and bias, but could be performed by the same person, or alternatively by trained practitioners, particularly in terms of the advisory function since this may require specialised knowledge and skills.

The evidence facilitator and assessor in particular, should be exposed to training components on the development of self-awareness, sensitivity and the ability to know and manage one’s own biases. Whilst the critical areas of bias in South Africa focus on issues of race, language, religion, gender and class, there are also numerous other biases, including the bias against experiential and non-formal forms of learning. Anti-bias and sensitivity training needs to emphasise an understanding of these potential problems and the ways in which they may impact on assessment activities and processes10.

In some instances, training needs to include an explicit component on language bias, where language may become a hindrance to assessment, particularly where candidates make use of

‘colloquialisms’ for work processes, equipment and tools. Where the demonstration of skill does not require formal language skills, assessors have to be sensitive to the use of words and terms common within a particular context.

However, where language is a critical component in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, competencies cannot be assessed in the presence of linguistic inadequacy. In such cases the assessment of language is an integral feature of recognising prior learning.

9       The Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (Chapter 5, SAQA, 2001), provides a detailed explica- tion of the role and expertise of assessors. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with this document.

10    Some providers have opted for an ‘assessment panel’ consisting of subject matter experts and other key personnel to safeguard against bias.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Training and registration of assessors and key personnel

Through training of assessors and other personnel involved in assessment, the quality of assessments and the integrity of the assessment system are ensured. Training enables evidence facilitators, assessors, moderators,  advisors and administrative  personnel to provide  a holistic,  learner-centred service that is in keeping with the objectives of the NQF and related policies. Monitoring policies ensure that assessors’ and moderators’ professional competencies in assessment are reviewed and updated.

Y N U
The criteria for the registration  of assessors and moderators  makes explicit provision for the requisite certification in the relevant unit standards designed for that purpose, in accordance with the relevant principles and standards for assessment and moderation as set out in SAQA and other policy documents11
Policies and review mechanisms regarding monitoring  and quality assurance of evidence facilitators, assessors, moderators and other key personnel are in place
The functions  of evidence facilitation,  assessment and advising are clearly defined, and where possible, should not be performed by the same person
Training and development encourage mentoring relationships between staff with and those without assessment expertise
Quality  assurance  systems  are implemented  by  all training  providers  to ensure that they increasingly meet the developmental objectives as agreed with the ETQA

11    Refer to relevant unit standards in Appendix B.

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.4    Methods and processes of assessment

Chapter 3 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards  and  Qualifications  (October  2001),  provides  a  detailed  discussion  of  the principles of good assessment. These principles constitute the heart of good practice and must  be  applied  in  the  design  and  implementation  of  all  assessment  methods  and procedures.

In addition, the quality of evidence relates to reliability, validity, authenticity, sufficiency and currency. Particularly in RPL assessment, sufficiency and currency are important. In the case of sufficiency, it is not only a question of whether enough evidence has been gathered. Sometimes, in an attempt to ensure rigour, assessors require too much evidence (e.g. extensive triangulation) thereby making the assessment process very onerous for candidates and for assessors. The essential reference point for ‘marking’ RPL is the lowest mark which enables a classroom taught candidate to ‘pass’. Rarely does this mean a complete coverage of the syllabus. It would be unfair to RPL candidates to expect more than the minimum requirement for learners in full-time study.

Currency is of particular importance as candidates may have learnt skills a long time ago. How current certain knowledge, skills and competencies need to be are largely dependent on the context and occupational area.

In terms of the assessment process, it is important to note that all assessments, regardless of the subject matter and the context, follow the same basic procedure, i.e.:

  • Planning of the assessment with the candidate;
  • Conducting the assessment; and
  • Feedback of the results to the candidate.

However, before the assessment can take place, the assessor has to plan, design and prepare assessments. This includes making decisions about the method of assessment, the instruments to be used and the extent to which integrated assessment, (i.e. covering more than one learning outcome), can be achieved.

Chapter 6 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001), discusses the assessment process in detail. This includes the preparatory work that needs to go into the planning of assessment.

The important point here is that fit for purpose assessments must be designed and decided upon before an assessment can take place. This may include appropriate alternative forms of assessment.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Methods and processes of assessment

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Methods and processes of assessment

Assessment  is  a  structured  process  for  gathering  evidence  and  making  judgements  about  a candidate’s performance in relation to registered national standards and qualifications. This process involves the candidate and the assessor within a particular context in a transparent and collaborative manner.

Y N U
The purpose of the assessment and the expectations  of the candidate are clarified
Assessment  plans  take  into  account  the  form,  quality  and  sources  of evidence required (for example performance evidence, knowledge evidence, witness testimony)
The form and quality of support to be provided to the candidate in preparing for the assessment are established
The candidate is actively involved in all aspects of the assessment process to ensure that the assessment is fair and transparent. Possible barriers to fair assessments are identified and addressed
Assessment  plans indicate  a variety of appropriate  assessment  methods and instruments to validate diverse types of learning
The choice of assessment methods  is fit for purpose and ensures reliable and valid assessment outcomes
An appeals process is in place and made known to the candidate12
Assessment instruments  and exemplars  are developed  and moderated  in compliance  with the ETQA requirements
Assessment reports indicate the assessment plan, the evidence presented, the assessment outcome and recommendations  for further action, including additional training and/or re-assessment
Moderation and review mechanisms are in place, including policies for verification, evaluation and quality assurance of assessments and assessment systems

12    The appeals procedure is not discussed here – readers are referred to Chapter 6 of the Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (SAQA 2001).

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

2.5    Quality Management Systems

Recognition of Prior Learning should be an integrated feature of assessment policies. This includes  the  moderation,  management  and  reporting  procedures  that  constitute  the Quality Management Systems of ETQAs and their constituent providers.

The integrity and credibility of an assessment system requires a comprehensive system of quality assurance. Such a system proposes the standards for effective management, implementation, moderation and review of all assessment services. This includes the secure production, storage and distribution of records, reports and other data relevant to assessment and Recognition of Prior Learning.

Although the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD) specifies clearly the type and form of information required from ETQAs and providers, additional information is required so that a research base that examines its implementation and its efficacy is developed. However, in its final form, credits achieved through RPL, will be recorded in the same manner as conventional assessment outcomes. This is to prevent the stigmatisation of RPL credits as being inferior to the conventional method of achieving credits and/or qualifications.

Internal and external evaluation  should therefore form a critical part of the review and quality improvement processes. In terms of RPL assessments, evaluation takes place at three levels:

  • Formative: This occurs continuously at the micro-level of the system, i.e. at the level of the provider. Evaluation of the evidence facilitation phase, the planning phase, the assessment and the feedback phase should take place at regular scheduled intervals.
  • Summative: Overall evaluation of the degree to which agreed goals and targets have been met. This should be in line with the objectives for facilitating access and redress in a particular sector of education and training.

(The ETQA in particular is responsible for the establishment of sector-related targets in terms of RPL. This will ensure a coherent approach to RPL assessment and facilitate the collation of information in respect of RPL initiatives and results.)

  • Diagnostic: Occurs  at both formative  and summative  stages  so that changes  to the process can be effected at various points of the cycle, as appropriate.

This evaluation is in line with the moderation processes discussed in Chapter 7 of SAQA’s Criteria and Guidelines for Assessment of NQF registered Unit standards and Qualifications (October 2001). The main functions of moderation systems are:

  • To verify that assessments are fair, valid, reliable and practicable;
  • To identify the need to redesign assessments if required;
  • To provide an appeals procedure for dissatisfied candidates;
  • To evaluate the performance of assessors;
  • To provide procedures for the de-registration of unsatisfactory assessors; and
  • To provide feedback to the National  Standards  Bodies on unit standards and qualifications.

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

Example of the self-audit tool: Quality Management Systems

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Quality Management Systems

Quality Management  Systems are in place to ensure the continuous  improvement  of assessment systems. The Quality Management System ensures the critical integrity of assessments and reporting and recording processes inform strategic planning requirements at provider, sectoral and national level.

Y N U
Quality Management  Systems for assessment are designed,  documented and implemented in accordance with agreed criteria and specifications13
Quality Management Systems ensure the refining of assessment policies, procedures and services at all levels and inform planning for further development aimed at meeting agreed targets
Quality Management  Systems provide  for input from all key stakeholders, including representatives from the candidate community
Quality Management Systems provide for support in meeting developmental targets, including evaluation and monitoring activities
Evaluation  and  monitoring   activities   are  clearly   spelt   out   in  QMS

documentation, including diagnostic, formative and summative activities

Evaluation and monitoring activities ensure consistency within a sector
Assessment   documentation,   reports   and   sources   of   evidence   are maintained in accordance with agreed criteria and specifications
RPL results are recorded in accordance  with the requirements of the ETQA

and SAQA’s NLRD

Information   on  RPL  outcomes,   including   unsuccessful   and  successful applications  are maintained
The Quality Management System provides for systems to monitor progress of candidates who enter learning programmes post-RPL
The Quality Management  System  provides  for analyses and reporting  of services and results

13    Refer to Criterion 2 in Chapter 4 of Quality Management Systems for Education and Training Providers (SAQA: October 2001).

2.6    Fees for RPL services

RPL  services  and  assessment  should  not  cost  more  than  a  full-time  face-to-face programme, particularly if such services are integrated into the existing infrastructure. The cost of developing a system and the necessary capacity to support the system, are not unlike the costs of developing a new learning programme. This means that the initial start-up costs may be relatively high, but increasingly, with learners entering such a programme, the costs are reduced and spread over a period of time. The challenge  is to develop programmes  and services where one-on-one contact with a candidate is kept to the minimum. RPL does not mean that each candidate must be dealt with only on an individual basis. In principle, RPL should be more cost-effective for candidates, employers and employees by reducing the cost of training in terms of those parts of the qualification for which the candidate already meets the requirements. The cost of developing RPL systems and capacity must be seen as an investment in the development of a credible lifelong learning system in South Africa.

Example of the self-audit tool: Fees for RPL services

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

Fees for  RPL services

Fees for the delivery and administration of assessment and RPL services, do not create barriers for candidates. The development  of services and programmes is an investment in the lifelong learning approach across all levels and sectors of education and training in South Africa.

Y N U
Fees should not create barriers for candidates
The fees for the assessment of prior learning should be less than the cost of a full-time module or learning programme
Credit-bearing  portfolio  development  or other articulation  programmes  are made increasingly available to assist candidates in their preparation for assessment, and to qualify for available subsidies for selected skills programmes and learnerships
Flexible payment  options,  in line with  the policies  and procedures  of the

ETQA and constituent  providers, are available

Research  and  development  priorities  are identified,  including  those  that investigate costs and cost effectiveness

Core criteria for quality assurance of RPL    2

2.7    RPL and Curriculum Development

RPL and Curriculum Development highlights the extent to which the education and training system is changing from an inputs-based system to an outcomes-based system. It reflects how assessment and assessment practice will increasingly inform the development of curricula and also represents the holistic vision, the ideal discussed earlier.

RPL requires a careful analysis of the knowledge, skills and values that will prove competence in a particular field of practice. As a result, curricula and qualifications will increasingly be enriched by the additional knowledge of candidates that was acquired outside of formal education and training, and the ways in which this knowledge may make the qualification more relevant and responsive to the needs of the workplace. It is here where the critical ‘negotiation of two worlds

– the world of experience and the world of the academic’ (Osman et al, 2001) becomes evident.

As the emerging education and training system matures, and as education and training practitioners  and assessors become more confident of the integrity of the system, it will become possible to give credit to learning that is so interrelated that it is difficult to find exact matches with requirements for unit standards and qualifications. Then it will be possible to compare  previous  learning  to  a  particular  level  of  expertise  common  to  a  range  of qualifications at a particular level of the NQF. The portfolio method may become most useful to assist candidates in developing a holistic and well-rounded picture of themselves, their career and their lifelong learning achievements. This may include a reflection on all the contexts and areas of experiential, community and workplace learning.

These issues are fundamental to the debate on RPL and assessment practice in terms of what knowledge  is  regarded  as  valuable  and  worth  recognising,  and  whether  learning generated in situations outside of the specified range or context in which assessment is being done, will be recognised.

Example of the self-audit tool: RPL and Curriculum Development

(Key: Y – Yes; N – No; U – Underdeveloped)

RPL and Curriculum Development

Assessment and RPL practice increasingly inform the development of new standards, qualifications, learning programmes and curricula. Providers increasingly use methods of instruction and delivery to provide curricula to meet the diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic and educational needs of learners.

Y N U
Learning programmes increasingly take into account the nature and form of knowledge  produced  in previously excluded  constituencies  and locations, e.g. indigenous knowledge, women’s knowledge, workers’ knowledge
The curriculum  increasingly incorporates  indigenous and other knowledge forms to reflect the diversity of needs and goals of the learner population

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

RPL and Curriculum Development continued

Y N U
The  design   of  learning  programmes   indicates   how  candidates’   prior knowledge has been affirmed and taken into account
The curriculum is sufficiently open-ended  to allow for flexible entry and exit points to enhance access and the achievement of learning goals
Emerging trends from assessment and RPL where these have implications for modification and redesign of unit standards and qualifications, are forwarded to the appropriate bodies
Where candidates  demonstrate  knowledge  that does not easily fit existing unit standards or exit level outcomes, credit equivalencies are established in consultation  with subject experts and relevant ETQAs

Summary

The criteria discussed in this section represent the overall national approach to the establishment of a credible assessment system, which in real terms includes the processes, services and related procedures for RPL as an integral feature of the assessment policies of the education and training system as a whole. It is therefore critical that ETQAs take this to their constituencies and contextualise it to suit the needs and requirements of the sector.

Such consultation will include the identification of:

  • The purpose, context and type of RPL to be practised in the sector, for example access

RPL or redress RPL;

  • The needs and resources of the sector, including the need for capacity building;
  • The target groups and programmes; and
  • The establishment of implementation targets over an agreed period of time.

In Chapter 3, a strategic framework for implementation  on a national level is discussed.

A strategic framework for implementation   3

Chapter 3

A strategic framework for implementation

Introduction

“Of  all the expectations  placed  on the NQF, the aspiration  for a system  of recognition  of prior learning (RPL) was perhaps the most significant;”  (Report of the Study Team on the Implementation of the National Qualifications Framework; Department of Education: April 2002).

The extract above reflects the high priority accorded throughout the system to the establishment of a credible, sustainable system whereby previously acquired learning can be recognised and credited. However, RPL cannot be seen as the answer to all the questions in the emerging education and training system. In the words of the study team:

“On  its own,  it is not a solution  to either inequalities  or unemployment”, but  it is an important strategy to address access to education and training for those previously excluded. As such, RPL should be seen as a key developmental strategy – both for the system and for individuals wanting to receive recognition  for their learning achieved outside of formal institutions.  For this reason it is placed within a framework  for the enhancement  of lifelong learning. ETQAs and their constituent providers must commit to the principles of access and redress and develop context-specific plans to  make  this  possible.”   (Report  of  the  Study  Team  on  the  Implementation   of  the  National Qualifications Framework; Department of Education: April 2002).

This policy offers a set of criteria against which to formulate a more detailed strategy. Such a strategy cannot be developed and implemented at the macro level alone – it needs to be elaborated and implemented by all key stakeholders in the system, i.e. ETQAs, accredited providers and workplaces, education and training practitioners, assessors, moderators, administrators and managers.

To this end, the following strategic framework for implementation is proposed:

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

3.1 Strategic framework

  1. Audit of current practice

The self-audit tools (Chapter 2) could be refined for use by ETQAs to determine the extent and depth of RPL delivery within their constituencies. They could also be used by constituent providers and workplace-based assessors to measure their progress against agreed implementation targets.

  1. The development of detailed sector-specific plans

ETQAs and their constituent  providers  have to develop detailed sector-specific  plans for implementation and quality assurance.

  1. Capacity building of resources and staff

In line with the implementation plan, the capacity development of assessors and other key staff, as well as appropriate resources, is key to the success of implementation.

  1. The design and moderation of appropriate assessment instruments and tools

Appropriate assessment instruments and tools are critical to ensure the credibility of the assessments, and the integrity of the system.

  1. Quality management systems and procedures

The development of review and reporting mechanisms is critical to the integrity of the system.

  1. The establishment of a research base

Opportunities  to,  and  commitment  from  all  stakeholders  to  engage  in  the  debate  and development of a credible, sustainable system is critical to the integrity of the system.

3.2 Conclusion

In developing an RPL policy, it cannot be assumed that because the policy has been approved, the system will be in place. As in the case of all the approaches, processes and procedures in the new education and training system, it is acknowledged that the development of such a system takes time. The level and extent of implementation will be determined by the ETQAs in consultation with their constituencies.

It is also acknowledged that lessons will be learnt on the road to full implementation and that we should learn these lessons. Recognition of Prior Learning is not a precise science, rather it builds on international best practice, takes from the lessons that which is valuable and establishes a system that is responsive to the needs of learners, but also balances this with the need for integrity of the system.

32                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Appendix A

A generic process    A

Example of a generic  RPL process

Application (1)

RPL evidence facilitator meets candidate to conduct pre-screening to ascertain viability of application (2)

If viable, then Pre-assessment stage:  (3)

If not viable i.e. candidate will clearly not meet the minimum

RPL evidence facilitator takes candidate(s) through preparation for assessment:

  • Portfolio development and related workshops, and/or
  • One-on-one advising
  • Assessment approaches, tools and mechanisms
  • Guidance on collecting evidence, which candidate undertakes

Assessor (preferably with facilitator present) and candidate develop assessment plan: (4)

  • Review unit standard(s) and requirements
  • Type and sources of evidence
  • Assessment tools to be used in this assessment
  • Dates and times of assessment

requirements in terms of language/ numeracy and/or other competencies, the candidate is referred for further advice on alternative pathways

Assessment stage: (5)

  • Candidate undergoes practical assessment, and/or
  • Candidate sits knowledge test, and/or
  • Candidate goes through pre- and post-interview

Judgement stage: (6) Evidence judged by assessor

Moderation  stage (7)

Appeal process may be initiated

Credit not awarded

Feedback stage (8)

Post-assessment (9)

support

Credit awarded

RELATED ASPECTS ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE

(a) RPL policies, procedures and systems in place; information on RPL is readily available

(b) The provider has developed a criteria framework within which pre-screening  takes place; pre- screening criteria are readily available to candidates

(c) Alternate pathways/options as well as additional counseling services

(d) Where no facilitators are available, assessors will undertake all functions

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             33

Appendix B

Unit standards

Unit standards   B

TITLE:

Facilitate the preparation and presentation of assessment evidence by candidates

Unit standard number                 12544

Unit standard level                     4

Credits                                           4

Field                                              Education, Training and Development

Sub-field                                        Adult learning

Issue date                                     February 2003

Review date                                  This standard  should be reviewed  within  three years of issue.

Purpose

This unit standard will be useful to people who assist candidates  to prepare and present evidence for assessment. Such evidence facilitators will add value to the assessment process by ensuring candidates are ready to present well organised and complete evidence to registered assessors. Their value will be particularly felt when assisting candidates who are competent in their field, but are unable to present coherent evidence of that fact for reasons unrelated to their skill area.

People credited with this unit standard are able to:

  • Provide information to candidates about assessment in general and their assessment in particular;
  • Advise and support candidates to prepare, organise and present evidence; and
  • Evaluate and give feedback on candidate evidence.

Learning assumed to be in place

The credit value is based on the assumption that people learning towards this unit standard already understand the key principles of an outcomes-based system, and seek to apply the assessment facilitation skills within the context of their given area of expertise.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Range statement

References to “evidence  facilitator”  concern the person who wishes to achieve this unit standard. References to “the candidate”  in this unit standard concern the person who the evidence facilitator is helping to prepare for assessment, and do not refer to the evidence facilitator.

Assessment of the evidence facilitator against this unit standard is to take place within the context of given organisational  assessment policies and procedures,  using given assessment instruments that are fully designed in relation to registered unit standards.

This  unit  standard  does  not  distinguish  between  “RPL  assessment”   and  any  other  form  of assessment. The reason for this is because all assessment involves gathering, judging and giving feedback on evidence in relation to agreed standards. Therefore, it does not matter whether the evidence facilitator  is assisting a candidate  to prepare and present existing evidence in the RPL sense, or whether the evidence facilitator is assisting candidates to produce evidence afresh.

Specific outcomes and assessment criteria

Specific outcome 1:        Provide information to candidates about assessment

Range: The information provided to candidates is to include:

  • General assessment principles and procedures;
  • Organisational assessment policies and procedures; and
  • The requirements of the particular assessment at hand.

Assessment criteria

1.1.  Basic  information  is  provided  about  key  concepts  and  principles  concerning  the outcomes-based system of learning and assessment, within the context of the National Qualifications Framework. Explanations of these key concepts promote understanding of the context of assessment and possible implications for the candidate at individual, organisational, industry and national levels.

1.2. Interactions with candidates have the potential to set them at ease and promote understanding of the organisational assessment policy and procedures and the specific assessment process and expectations. Opportunities are provided for clarification concerning the process and the expectations.

Range: Expectations  to be addressed  as defined in the relevant unit standards  and associated assessment instruments.

1.3.  The information helps candidates to identify potential sources of evidence in relation to their circumstances.

1.4.  The information enables candidates to identify the most appropriate and effective means for producing evidence for the assessment given their circumstances.

1.5.  Information to candidates is clear, precise and in line with instructions provided in the

assessment instruments.

36                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcome 2:        Advise and support candidates to prepare, organise and present evidence

Assessment criteria:

2.1.  Potential barriers to gathering evidence and special needs of candidates are identified, and appropriate proposals are provided to overcome such barriers and to address special needs.

Range: The proposals could be made to candidates and/or assessors and other role- players.

2.2.  The  advice  and  support  enables  the  candidate  to identify  appropriate,  effective  and efficient means of producing evidence of their competence.

2.3. The advice and support provided does not interfere with the candidate’s evidence but promotes the candidate’s ability to present valid, relevant, authentic and sufficient evidence.

2.4.  Interactions with candidates enable them to organise and present evidence in a manner that contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the assessment, but without compromising the reliability and validity of the assessment.

2.5. The nature and manner of advice and support takes into account lessons learnt from previous such interactions as well as information from assessors.

2.6.  Support is given in a way that builds candidates’ capacity concerning assessment and promotes independence for the future.

Specific outcome 3:        Evaluate and give feedback on candidate evidence

Range: The evaluation is limited mainly to an evaluation of the completeness and appropriateness of the evidence, and is not expected to amount to an assessment judgement as would be appropriate for an assessor.

Assessment criteria

3.1   The  evaluation  is  carried  out  in  terms  of  the  validity,  authenticity,  relevance  and sufficiency of evidence.

3.2   Evaluations  are  made  concerning  the  readiness  of  the  evidence  for  presentation  to registered assessors, and recommendations contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the assessment process.

Range: Recommendations to candidates and/or to registered assessors and/or to supervisors or managers.

3.3  Gaps in the evidence in relation to the requirements are identified and dealt with appropriately.

Range: “Appropriate” means advice or coaching is only given in cases where the gaps do not reflect a lack of competence on the part of the candidate. In cases where a lack of competence is discerned, feedback is provided in such a way that directs the candidate to further learning and/or practice, and in accordance with organisational policies and procedures.

3.4   Feedback about the evidence is communicated to candidates in a culturally sensitive

manner and in a way that promotes positive action by the candidate.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

3.5 Documentation is completed in line with organisational format requirements. The documentation contains a complete and accurate reflection of the entire process and the evidence produced.

3.6   Key  lessons  from  the  facilitation  process  are  recorded  for  integration  into  future interactions with candidates.

Accreditation options:

  • An individual wishing to be assessed, including through RPL, against this unit standard may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing an evidence facilitator against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA according to an agreed

Moderation Action Plan.

Notes:

Critical crossfield outcomes

The following critical crossfield outcomes are addressed by this unit standard:

  • Identify and  solve  problems  using  critical  and  creative  thinking:  planning  for contingencies, candidates with special needs, predicting problems that could arise during the gathering of evidence, and making proposals to address difficulties.
  • Work effectively in a team using critical and creative thinking: working with candidates and other relevant parties prior to, during and after evidence gathering.
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities: planning, preparing, conducting and recording the evidence gathering.
  • Collect, analyse,  organise  and  critically  evaluate  information:  gather  and  evaluate evidence and the facilitation process.
  • Communicate effectively:  inform  candidates  about  assessment,  communicate  during evidence gathering and provide feedback.
  • Demonstrate the world as a set of related systems: understanding the impact of assessment on individuals and organisations.
  • Be culturally and aesthetically  sensitive  across a range of social contexts: work with

candidates and give feedback in a culturally sensitive manner.

38                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Essential embedded knowledge

The following essential embedded knowledge will be assessed indirectly through assessment of the specific outcomes in terms of the stipulated assessment criteria. Candidates are unlikely to achieve all the specific outcomes, to the standards described in the assessment criteria, without knowledge of the listed embedded knowledge. This means that for the most part, the possession or lack of the knowledge can be inferred from the quality of the candidate’s performance.

  • Principles of assessment
  • Principles and practices of RPL
  • Methods for gathering evidence
  • Potential barriers to assessment
  • Feedback techniques
  • The principles and mechanisms of the NQF
  • Assessment policies and ETQA requirements

Supplementary information

Definition of terms:

  • Assessment – a process  in which evidence  of performance  is gathered  and evaluated against agreed criteria.
  • Performance – includes skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, and the ability to transfer these to new situations.
  • Assessment criteria – state the type and quality of performance against which the candidate is assessed.

Principles of assessment:

  • Appropriate: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed and the activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as closely as possible.
  • Fair: The method of assessment does not present any barriers that are not related to the evidence.
  • Manageable: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integrated into  work  or  learning:  Evidence  collection  is  integrated  into  the  work  or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Valid: The evidence produced focuses on the requirements laid down in the standard; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Relevant: The evidence is relevant to the outcome.
  • Authentic: The evidence is attributable to the person being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: The assessment process is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Assessment candidates understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The  same  assessor  would  make  the  same  judgement  again  in  similar circumstances. The judgement made is similar to the judgement that would be made by

other assessors.

The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF                                             39

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

TITLE

Plan and conduct assessment of learning

Unit standard number:              ASSMT 01

Unit standard level:                  NQF 5

Credits:                                       15

Field:                                          Education, Training and Development

Sub-field:                                    All sub-fields

Issue date:                                  14 February 2001

Review date:                              14 February 2004

Purpose

This unit standard is for people who assess or intend to assess candidates against unit standards and/or qualifications. This unit standard will contribute towards the achievement of a variety of Education Training and Development Practices and Human Resource Development related qualifications.

People credited with this unit standard are able to assess learner performance against standards and qualifications registered on the NQF, using pre-designed instruments. This will be carried out in a fair, valid, reliable and practicable manner that is free of all bias and discrimination, paying particular attention to the three groups targeted for redress: race, gender and disability.

Learning assumed to be in place

The credit calculation is based on the assumption that learners have no previous assessment experience  when starting to learn towards this unit standard. A candidate  being assessed against this standard should have a prior qualification or equivalent competence in the relevant field of expertise. This qualification or equivalent competence should be at or above the level of qualifications/ unit standards that are to be assessed. Although it is not a requirement, it is recommended that those intending to achieve the unit standard “Design assessment instruments and guides”, should do so before attempting this unit standard.

Specific outcomes

Specific outcome 1:   Plan and prepare for assessment Specific outcome 2:   Prepare candidates for assessment Specific outcome 3:   Conduct assessment

Specific outcome 4:    Evaluate and record evidence and make assessment judgements

Specific outcome 5:    Provide feedback to relevant parties

Specific outcome 6:    Review assessment

40                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcomes and assessment criteria

Specific outcome 1:        Plan and prepare for assessment

Range:

  • Planning for assessment following learning processes and for RPL.
  • Planning assumes access to a range of pre-designed assessment instruments relevant to organisational assessment policies.
  • Planning must  include  assessments  that  require  special  needs  of  candidates  to  be considered.

Assessment criteria

1.1   Plans address all the assessment requirements of the unit standards or qualifications to be addressed.

Range: assessment requirements include performance to be assessed, types of evidence to be collected, assessment methods used, timing of assessment, resources required, sequence of activities, accountabilities, deadlines, arrangements for reviewing assessment plan.

1.2   Planning addresses the need for cost-effectiveness and takes into account the results of previous assessments, special needs of candidates, the assessment context, the accessibility and safety of the environment and contingencies.

1.3  The assessment activities, instruments and resources selected are appropriate to the outcomes and enable valid and sufficient evidence collection.

1.4   Assessment documentation is prepared to facilitate efficient and effective assessment.

The documentation provides all details of the assessment process needed to ensure fair, open, reliable and consistent assessment.

Range: Details include instructions to candidates, assessors and other relevant parties.

1.5   Potential unfair barriers to achievement by candidates are identified and plans are made to address such barriers without compromising the validity of the assessment.

Range: Unfair could relate to issues such as language or disabilities.

1.6   Required physical and human resources are ensured to be ready and available for use.

Logistical arrangements are confirmed with relevant roleplayers prior to the assessment.

1.7   Provision for moderation is made in accordance with relevant assessment policies and

ETQA requirements.

1.8  A variety of assessment methods are described and compared in terms of strengths, weaknesses and applications.

Range: The description of methods should cover situations for gathering evidence of abilities in problem solving, knowledge, understanding, practical and technical skills,

personal and attitudinal skills and values.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Specific outcome 2:        Prepare candidates for assessment

Assessment criteria

2.1   Assessment details are made explicit, in terms appropriate to the candidate’s language level and in a manner that sets candidates at ease. Opportunities for clarification are provided and responses promote understanding of the requirements.

Range: Assessment details cover the purpose, process, expectations, roles, responsibilities and appeals procedures.

2.2   Clear explanations are provided to the candidate of the key elements and implications of standards-based assessment within the context of the NQF.

2.3  Checks are carried out to ensure candidates are ready for assessment. In cases where candidates are deemed to be not yet ready, actions taken are in line with assessment policies.

2.4   Opportunities are provided for input from the candidate on possible sources of evidence that could contribute to valid assessment. Modifications made on the basis of the inputs maintain and/or improve the validity of the assessment.

Specific outcome 3:        Conduct assessment and document evidence

Assessment criteria

3.1   The environment and assessment practices are ensured to be conducive to effective, fair and safe assessment and where applicable, in line with recognised codes of practice and learning site or worksite standard operating procedures.

Range: codes of practice could include personal, product and worksite health, safety and environmental practices, and current legislation.

3.2   The assessment is carried out in accordance with the assessment plan. The assessment approach is adapted as required by the situation, and unforeseen events are addressed without compromising the validity or fairness of the assessment.

3.3   Language and expressions used are at a level appropriate to the candidate and provide for clear understanding of what is required without leading candidates.

3.4  Questioning techniques are appropriate and have the potential to successfully elicit appropriate responses.

3.5   Sufficient evidence is gathered, including evidence generated over time, to enable valid, consistent and fair assessment judgements to be made.

3.6   The  recording  of  evidence  is  sufficient  for  the  purposes  of  making  assessment judgements, meaningful feedback, moderation and possible appeals.

3.7   Key principles of assessment are described in terms of their importance and effect on the

assessment and the application of the assessment results.

42                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Unit standards   B

Specific outcome 4         Evaluate evidence and make assessment judgements

Range: The ability to make assessment  judgements  must be demonstrated  using diverse sources of evidence and in situations where:

  • Special needs of candidates need to be considered;
  • Candidates meet all criteria;
  • Candidates clearly do not meet the criteria;
  • Candidates meet some, but not all criteria; and
  • More evidence is required in order to make a judgement.

Assessment criteria

4.1   Evidence is evaluated for authenticity, validity and sufficiency.

4.2   The quality and type of evidence is evaluated in terms of the assessment outcomes, against the criteria in the relevant unit standard or qualifications.

4.3  The evaluation of evidence includes making allowances for contingencies beyond the control of the candidate without compromising the fairness or validity of the assessment. Range: Contingencies include unforeseen events, breakdowns, changed circumstances.

4.4   Assessment  judgements  are justified  by the quality and sufficiency  of the evidence.

Judgements can be substantiated in terms of the consistency and repeatability of the candidate’s performance and evidence from various sources and time periods.

4.5   Evidence and judgements are stored in line with the Quality Assurance system used by the organisation.

Specific outcome 5:        Provide feedback to relevant parties

Range:

  • Parties include  candidates,  educators,  trainers,  officials,  managers  and  moderators  as applicable to the situation.
  • Evidence must be provided of the ability to give written and oral feedback.
  • The ability to give feedback must be demonstrated in situations where:
  • Special needs of candidates need to be considered;
  • Candidates meet all criteria;
  • Candidates clearly do not meet the criteria;
  • Candidates meet some, but not all criteria; and
  • More evidence is required before a judgement is possible.

Assessment criteria

5.1   Feedback is given to relevant parties in accordance with confidentiality requirements, in an appropriate sequence and within agreed timeframes.

5.2   Feedback  focuses  on  the  quality  and  sufficiency  of  the  candidate’s  performance  in relation to the agreed outcomes and criteria.

5.3   The type and manner of giving feedback is constructive and related to the party’s needs.

Sufficient information is provided to enable the purpose of the assessment to be met, and to enable parties to make further decisions.

Range: Further  decisions  include  awarding  of credit  and redirecting  candidates  to

learning or re-assessment.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

5.4   Feedback on the assessment process is obtained from the candidate and opportunities are provided for clarification and explanation.

5.5   Disputes that arise are dealt with in accordance with the assessment policy.

5.6 Agreements reached and key elements of the feedback are recorded in line with organisational quality assurance systems.

5.7  The feedback process and models are described in terms of the potential impact on candidates and further learning and assessment.

Specific outcome 6:    Review assessment

Assessment criteria

6.1   The review identifies good and bad practice in assessment design and process, and notes these for incorporation in assessment redesign.

6.2   Feedback from relevant parties is used to effect future assessments positively.

6.3   Weaknesses  in the assessment  design and process that could have compromised  the fairness of assessment are identified and dealt with in accordance with the assessment policy.

6.4   Weaknesses in the assessment arising from poor quality of unit standards or qualifications are identified, and steps are taken to inform relevant bodies.

Accreditation process

An individual wishing to be assessed, (including through RPL) against this unit standard may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA.

Anyone assessing a learner-assessor against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.

Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.

Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA at its discretion.

Range statements

This is a generic assessment unit standard, and candidates can be assessed within any field of learning in line with their subject matter expertise. For the purposes of assessment of this unit standard, candidates should have access to pre-designed assessment instruments.

Further range statements are provided in the body of the unit standard where they apply to particular specific outcomes or assessment criteria.

44                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Notes

Unit standards   B

Critical crossfield outcomes

The following critical crossfield outcomes are addressed by this unit standard:

  • Identify and  solve  problems  using  critical  and  creative  thinking:  planning  for contingencies, candidates with special needs, problems that arise during assessment, suggesting changes to assessment;
  • Work effectively in a team using critical and creative thinking: working with candidates and other relevant parties during assessment, as well as post-assessment;
  • Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities: planning, preparing, conducting and recording the assessment;
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information: gather, evaluate and judge evidence and the assessment process;
  • Communicate effectively:  prepare  candidates  for  assessment,  communicate  during assessment, and provide feedback;
  • Demonstrate the world as a set of related systems: understanding the impact of assessment on individuals and organisations; and
  • Be culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts: plan, conduct and give feedback on assessments in a culturally sensitive manner.

Essential embedded knowledge

The following essential embedded knowledge will be assessed through assessment of the specific outcomes in terms of the stipulated assessment criteria. Candidates are unlikely to achieve all the specific outcomes, to the standards described in the assessment criteria, without knowledge  of  the  listed  embedded  knowledge.  This  means  that  for  the  most  part,  the possession or lack of the knowledge can be directly inferred from the quality of the candidate’s performance. Where direct assessment of knowledge is required, assessment criteria have been included in the body of the unit standard.

  • Principles of assessment – see assessment criterion 3.7
  • Principles and practices of RPL
  • Methods of assessment – see assessment criterion 1.8
  • Potential barriers to assessment
  • Feedback models – see assessment criterion 5.7
  • The principles and mechanisms of the NQF
  • Assessment policies and ETQA requirements
  • Moderation requirements

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Supplementary information

Definition of terms:

  • Assessment – a process  in which evidence  of performance  is gathered  and evaluated against agreed criteria.
  • Performance – includes skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, and the ability to transfer these to new situations.
  • Assessment criteria – state the type and quality of performance against which the candidate is assessed.
  • Candidate – person whose performance is being assessed by the assessor.

Principles of assessment:

  • Appropriateness: The method of assessment is suited to the performance being assessed.
  • Fairness: The method of assessment does not present any barriers to achievements, which are not related to the evidence.
  • Manageability: The methods used make for easily arranged, cost-effective assessments that do not unduly interfere with learning.
  • Integration into work or learning: Evidence  collection  is integrated  into the work or learning process where this is appropriate and feasible.
  • Validity: The assessment focuses on the requirements laid down in the standard; i.e. the assessment is fit for purpose.
  • Direct: The activities in the assessment mirror the conditions of actual performance as closely as possible.
  • Authenticity: The assessor is satisfied that the work being assessed is attributable to the person being assessed.
  • Sufficient: The evidence collected establishes that all criteria have been met and that performance to the required standard can be repeated consistently.
  • Systematic: Planning and recording is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that assessment is fair.
  • Open: Learners can contribute to the planning and accumulation of evidence. Assessment candidates understand the assessment process and the criteria that apply.
  • Consistent: The  same  assessor  would  make  the  same  judgement  again  in  similar circumstances.

The judgement made is similar to the judgement that would be made by other assessors.

46                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

Appendix  C

Models and issues for practice

Introduction

As part of the development of this policy, a review of international and local RPL projects and practices was undertaken, so that lessons learned from other contexts and in South Africa could be used to inform the development of a forward-thinking RPL policy for South Africa. The approach taken in this description is briefly to outline a few RPL case studies that speak to some of the issues and principles that are being highlighted in this document. It will not seek to provide great detail on how RPL is practised in each context, nor does it cover all countries internationally that implement RPL.

A holistic model for portfolio development

In  Canada  we  find  an  example  of  innovative  prior  learning  assessment  and  recognition (PLAR) among indigenous communities. The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) in Ontario is an Aboriginally owned and managed education institution that has developed an

‘alternative’ set of practices within portfolio development. In this context, the portfolio is used not only as a method of assessment in a narrow academic sense but also as a way to explore a wide range of individual and collective learning stemming from colonialism and social and cultural oppression. In a context in which both personal healing and cultural renewal are seen as part of the whole educational programme, educators and learners are encouraged to develop a wide range of learning, assessment and therapeutic skills with which to reconstruct their lives, their communities and the whole approach to education and training. According to FNTI, a valid assessment of past learning cannot take place outside this context; when constructing a portfolio of past experiences, individual students inevitably confront the barriers to learning and assessment, both those that arise from its structural and political realities, as well as from the ways in which adult learners have painfully internalised them (Michelson 1997).

Increasing adult learner participation rates in higher education

It is in the USA that prior learning assessment (PLA) developed approximately 25 years ago. One of the most interesting features of the USA model is its commitment to lifelong learning and to increasing access to learning opportunities for adults in meaningful and cost-effective ways. Thus, since the 1970s, there has been a concerted effort in many institutions in the USA to increase access to HE for adult learners. This has been successful to the degree that, in 1999,

41.1% of all undergraduate students at USA colleges and universities were over the age of 24 (Dumbleton & Strain 1999). Some universities, such as DePaul University in Chicago and New  York  State  University,  have  colleges  dedicated  to  adult  learners  (School  for  New

Learning and Empire State College respectively).

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

One of South Africa’s earliest RPL pilot projects was started at the University of the Free State. A ’niche’ qualification, targeting working adults in positions of management and leadership, but without having formal qualifications, was started in 1999. Two of the programme’s cornerstones are its RPL component (of which portfolio development is a significant  part)  and  its  flexible  curriculum  structure  that  allows  learners  to adapt  their learning  programmes  to suit their learning  and career needs. The portfolio  development course (PDC) is compulsory for all candidates wishing to enter the Bachelor in Management Leadership (BML). For those candidates who have the necessary matriculation exemption, the course is credit-bearing. For those candidates without matric or matriculation exemption, the PDC has been approved by the Matriculation Board as an alternative entry onto the BML, and these candidates make up the extra credits elsewhere in the course. The demand for the course has been extremely high, and the course is now offered off-campus and in other provinces of South Africa.

Creating an enabling framework for RPL through a National

RPL centre

In the Netherlands, Erkennen van elders of informeel Verworven Competenties (EVC) is being applied in order to contribute to the skills shortage by increasing the flexible ‘deployment’ of individuals by identifying their current competencies and using educational planning to fast- track appropriate new learning that is individualised. RPL practice in the Netherlands has not yet moved much beyond an experimental phase, and its implementation success is due largely to ‘enthusiastic pioneers’. For this reason, the Dutch government set up the Knowledge Centre APL, with funding, at the beginning of 2001 for a period of four years. The functions of the Knowledge Centre APL are: the development of expertise and dissemination of information on APL; research and development of best practices; networking; and supporting the new vocational qualifications framework.

Models  of regional  RPL provisioning

Two very different types of regional RPL arrangements have been found in North America. The one, representing institutional collaboration, is one of very few of its kind. The other type of arrangement, a community-based and/or semi-independent RPL centre, is more common.

Vermont State Colleges (VSC)

The VSC is a partnership between 15 community colleges in Vermont, USA. The VSC RPL service is aimed at learners who do not fulfill the conventional college entry requirements, or who have learning from experience for which they wish to gain credit towards a formal college qualification. Most of the learners who do the programme request first or second year college credits. Learners can sign up at any participating institution in Vermont, and the portfolio development course (the main assessment tool) is implemented from a common template. Furthermore, the learner need not necessarily apply for further learning at the institution where s/he is receiving portfolio development assistance.

48                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

The programme is co-ordinated from a central office with two staff members who play a co- ordinating and administrative role. The VSC draws its assessors from the participating institutions, and industry where appropriate. Each participating institution has instructors (or advisors) trained in helping learners understand and complete the portfolio, which is then submitted to the central office. Copies of the portfolios are subsequently  redistributed  to subject-specific panels of academic assessors representing the member institutions, as well as to  an  industry  representative  where  appropriate.  The  assessors  individually  assess  the portfolios and then come together at the central office to compare notes and consensually agree on and recommend a result. The credit(s) is transferable, not only across Vermont but also across the US, although it is up to the individual institution, where the RPL candidate may be applying to enter a programme of learning, to accept the RPL credit recommendation(s). The New England Association of Schools and Colleges certifies academical viability and transferability of credits across institutions.

The greatest strength of this model is the participative collaboration of all institutions, from delivering a common PDC, to jointly developing assessment criteria, and awarding of credit through panels of assessors.

PLA Centre, Halifax

The PLA Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada offers RPL services to individuals and organisations that have a range of development needs, from education and training; to those facing unemployment or retrenchment; to career advancement. The PLA Centre is a joint project involving five Halifax universities, the provincial community college system, representatives from community groups, voluntary organisations, labour, the private sector and government.

The Centre has a small staff of 4 to 5 housed in the ground floor of a shopping mall tower block in central Halifax. While most PLA in Canada focuses on helping learners access post- secondary education (PSE) the Halifax Centre process might include PSE access at some point in the learner’s development, but this is not its main emphasis. Assessors, advisors and trainers are drawn from the partner institutions. The Centre offers individuals and groups a range of RPL programmes and services, namely: individual interviews with a PLA advisor, the Transferable Skills Workshop, and a 30-hour portfolio development course.

Some of the strengths of this approach include its practicality for industry and large organisations like the navy, particularly given the rapidly changing nature of the world of work, and the need to re-skill people in the face of retrenchment. Also, RPL plays an important role in steering people away from social assistance and welfare, towards gainful employment and a sense of empowerment over their own life path and choices. Lastly, the Centre is accessible in terms of location and structure of services.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Workforce development projects

There are examples of RPL-inclusive workforce development projects in the USA, many of which are quite large, e.g. Ford Motor Company, Qwest, and IBM. However, such projects are not the norm. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has pioneered a model of workforce development that takes “the employed adult worker as the focal point, linking the needs and interests of employees, employer demands for skilled and flexible employees, and the capacity of educational providers” (Flynn et al 1994:2). The approach is collaborative and participative, and includes the following components: career and education planning, assessment of prior learning, motivational workshops, financial assistance for tuition, and a comprehensive information and fund management system through which all data, contracts and reports are processed.

In the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority (MERSETA) in South Africa, a model that is moving towards a holistic approach to RPL and related services is emerging. A RPL pilot project has been undertaken in the New Tyre Chamber. This project emerged from an evaluation of an early assessor training course in which components relating to bias and sensitivity, and RPL were inadequate. A new assessor training course, substantially inclusive of these components and aligned with the national unit standards for assessors, has been developed. Workers are provided with time off to attend a one-day ‘Returning to Learning’ workshop, in addition to one-on-one guidance, in order to assist them in preparing for their assessments. Various components of the project have been concerned with using and adapting similar strategies found in the FNTI model.

In 1997, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) undertook a participatory RPL research project in the auto and mining sectors. The project is important in highlighting some of the problems that can undermine RPL implementation if not addressed in the planning and consensus-building stages. For example, it emerged that management and workers had different purposes in mind for the RPL activity (management wanted a skills audit, while workers assumed that they would be recognised, receive higher pay and have access to further education and training opportunities). A number of factors contributed to workers being disillusioned with RPL: information relating to RPL procedures and assessment tools was not readily made available; some of the assessment tools used were inappropriate; many workers were given no opportunities to prepare for their assessments and nor did they have access to the standards or criteria against which they were to be assessed; many workers disregarded the outcome of their assessments, as the grading system was not explained, and no verbal feedback was  provided.  One  of  the  spin-offs  was  that  the  RPL  exercise  mitigated  against  the development  of a notion  of lifelong  learning. Also,  the equity  agenda  so often  assumed inherent in RPL practices did not meet the goal of certifying large numbers of workers.

The findings from the research were used to develop an RPL policy for COSATU affiliates that sets out eight implementations, including developing a union mandate, establishing a Joint Committee, agreeing on the purpose(s) of RPL, putting in place support structures for workers, in order to create a worker-supportive and participatory RPL framework for workplaces (COSATU 2000).

50                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Models and issues for practice      C

Some overall comments and issues emerging from the case studies

The discussion above highlighted a number of diverse approaches to providing RPL services and programmes, all of which reflect innovative responses to particular contexts, issues and stakeholders. However, in reviewing these case studies for the purpose of learning lessons for a broad-based implementation of RPL in South Africa, a number of important contextual issues and/or differences need to be highlighted.

Firstly, a number of case studies are from First World countries that are not faced with the same issues relating to levels of literacy, participation of citizens in formal education, or unemployment rates as occur in South Africa. Secondly, RPL in those contexts often takes place in a situation where one of the concerns relating to groups such as immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, is on assimilation into the culture, language and economy of the receiving country. Issues relating to the transformation of society to reflect the developmental needs of the majority are generally not part of the discourse or practice of RPL  in  the  First  World  contexts  examined.  Thirdly,  although  much  of  the  literature examined indicated that financial resources for RPL in these countries is insufficient, the resources that are available for RPL implementation is quite considerable, such as in the Netherlands. Fourthly, the issue of language, as in South Africa where the majority of people do not speak English, is less of an issue in these other contexts. Finally, the experience of the COSATU research, with regard to the social redress and equity agenda of RPL being undermined unless carefully designed, is an issue that has been foregrounded by the FNTI experience. It is evident that all stakeholders involved in RPL implementation and quality assurance  will  need  to  ensure  that  their  processes  are  inclusive,  participatory  and stakeholder-driven.

On the other hand, these case studies point to the fact that it is possible to provide RPL services more cost-effectively in a context of scarcer resources. The two regional models represent the basis on which more cost-effective options for South Africa can be explored. Secondly, the UFS case study indicates that where institutional will exists, non-traditional groups of learners can be accommodated within institutions in meaningful ways. The MERSETA case study demonstrates the possibilities for developing a holistic model within an economic sector.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

LIST OF SOURCES

1  COSATU (2000). Recognition of Prior Learning (Learning and work series); COSATU, supported by GTZ: Johannesburg.

2   Dumbleton, S. & Strain, C. (1999). Maximising the potential of the working adult to realise

“Vision for the year 2008”. Testimony presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education,

31 August 1999. (Unpublished paper).

3   South Africa. Department of Education, Department of Labour (2002). Report of the Study Team on the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework. Pretoria: Department of Education and Department of Labour.

4  Flower, R and Hawke, G. (2000). The Recognition of Prior Learning in Australia: An ambivalent Relationship with the Academy, Competency-Based Education and the Market. In: N. Evans (Ed.). Experiential Learning Around the World: Employability and the Global Economy. London: Jessica Kingsley.

5   Flynn, E, Winters, L and Mark, C. (1994). Extending education and training policy to adult workers: lessons from the CAEL workforce education model. Chicago: CAEL, Massachussets: Jobs for the Future.

6   Harris, J. (1999). Ways of seeing Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): what contribution can such practices make to social inclusion? Studies in the Education of Adults, 31:2, pp.124–139.

7   Michelson, E. (1997). Multicultural approaches to portfolio development. In: Rose A. and Leahy  M.  (Eds.).  Assessing  adult  learning  in  diverse  settings:  current  issues  and approaches.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

8   Osman, R., Castle, J. (2001). RPL: Early Lessons, Challenges and Promise. South African

Journal of Higher Education, 15:1, pp.54–60.

52                                                The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African NQF

Funded by the European Union under the European Programme for Reconstruction  and Development

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the funder

ISBN 0-9584572-1-2

South African Qualifications Authority

Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06, Waterkloof, Pretoria, 0145

SAQA: Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Download a copy of this policy form the SAQA website here:

http://saqa.org.za/docs/pol/2003/qmsetqa.pdf

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

P0LICY DOCUMENT

Please refer any queries in writing to:

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Director: Quality Assurance and Development RE: Quality Management Systems for ETQAs Postnet Suite 248

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Publication date: October 2001

ISBN: 0958441952

Funded by the European Union under the European

Programme for Reconstruction and Development

Quality Management

Systems  for ETQAs

THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY

Table of Contents

Executive Summary                                                                            5

1  Introduction                                                                                   7

2  Quality Terminology                                                                       9

3  Quality Management Systems                                                    12

4  A Quality Management System for the National

Qualifications and Standards Framework (NQF)                      15

5  The ETQAs Role in the Quality Management

System for the NQF                                                                     20

6  Variations in the Contexts in which the ETQAs serving

different sectors will operate that may impact on their QMS   36

Appendix 1: The Purposes of Learning                                         46

Definition of Terms                                                                          47

Bibliography                                                                                     48

Notes, Tables and Diagrams

Note 1:       A Note about Cost                                                         11

Table 1:       Characteristics of a Quality Management System            13

Diagram 1: Quality Spirals                                                               14

Table 2:       Managing Quality in the NQF System                              16

Table 3:       The Quality Management Roles of ETQAs within

the NQF System                                                            21

Table 4:       Activities associated with the Quality Management

Roles of ETQAs                                                            23

Table 5:       Some differences between ETQAs from the two

identified sectors that will influence their QMS.               44

Table 6:       Primary Reasons for Learning                                         46

Executive summary

E

ducation and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs), while independent bodies, by definition exist as an integral part of the system established to introduce and implement the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Along with the other components of the system (SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating bodies and Providers), ETQAs are a part of the NQF quality

management system.

ETQAs in the two identified sectors, (Education and Training sub-system and Economic sectors), have to deal with providers of different sizes and cultures, who frequently will provide learning for different purposes in terms of different qualifications and standards. The ETQAs in these two sectors are likely to vary in size and in their wider roles beyond the NQF. While the fundamentals of a quality management system for ETQAs are relevant to all, there will be variations between the sectors. It is unlikely that one model of quality assurance management will suit all. The outcomes, however, should be the same; the development of a quality culture that benefits learners and society as described by the objectives of the NQF.

Quality management depends on creating a quality culture, which amongst other things, means everyone accepts full responsibility for quality and has the flexibility to respond to their particular situation.

For these reasons, SAQA is not going to prescribe a detailed quality management system for

ETQAs.

However, any ETQA quality management system will include the following essential roles:

  • Create and sustain a quality culture.
  • Contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of qualifications and standards.
  • Confirm that providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and/or assessment have the requisite skills.
  • Confirm that providers regularly monitor and report on the quality and effectiveness of learning and qualifications and standards.
  • Confirm that the providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities.
  • Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect.
  • Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their customers: SAQA, providers, SGBs, NSBs and stakeholders.
  • Monitor providers’ outcomes and internal audit process and report back to providers, SAQA and NSBs.

There will be some questions and considerations common to each of these that all ETQAs will need to address. These are identified and discussed, as are some of the key differences in the contexts in which the ETQAs serving the education and training sub-system and economic sector-learning environment will operate.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            5

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

ETQAs, together with SAQA, play a pivotal role within the quality management system of the NQF system. They can foster a quality culture within the NQF System both through creating such a culture within their own organisation and through helping and encouraging providers to do the same. However, if they are to foster a quality culture, they will depend on the other parts of the NQF system (SAQA, NSB/SGB, Providers and Moderating Bodies) to play their part and will need to help them to do so.

In order to foster a quality culture amongst providers ETQAs are likely to use a combination of:

  • Initial accreditation that requires providers to undertake a range of assessments (e.g. self and peer) and quality assurance activities and to report on the outcomes of these activities.
  • Monitoring activities that include the direct auditing of reports, systems, processes and outcomes and the judicious use of technically sound external evaluation.
  • The use of technically sound assessments to confirm the knowledge and skills of learners, especially where the associated qualifications and standards are to inform high-stakes decisions.
  • Annual reviews that include establishing and agreeing with providers’ new quality goals, taking into account the previous year’s achievements and the outcomes of monitoring

activities.

6                                                                                                           Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 1

Introduction

R

egulation R1127, under the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 specifies the roles and responsibilities  of Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs). ETQAs are accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

for:

“The purpose of monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards or qualifications and standards.”

The ETQAs, while independent bodies, by definition exist as an integral part of the system established to introduce and implement the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Along with  the  other  components  of  the  system,  SAQA,  National  Standards  Bodies  (NSBs), Standards Generating Bodies (SGBs), Moderating Bodies and Providers, ETQAs are a part of the NQF quality management system. However, as independent organisations, each ETQA is responsible for the quality of the services it provides to its customers and therefore must maintain its own internal quality management system.

The ETQA Regulation (R1127) gives the following definition of a quality management

system:

“The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.”

To paraphrase the objectives specified by the Act, the ultimate purposes of the system are to:

  • Enhance learning in South Africa by increasing the number of learners, the frequency of learning, the amount they learn, and the relevance and durability of what is learned.
  • Establish a framework of qualifications and standards that are relevant, credible and accessible.

Relevant learning is defined as that which contributes to:

  • Developing the full personal potential of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.
  • Facilitating mobility and progression within education, training and career paths. The credibility of a qualification depends on:
  • Its relevance (or fitness for purpose).
  • The confidence of those who use it as an indicator of the skills and knowledge of the holder.
  • Its accessibility to those who aspire to gain it.

With regard to accessibility generally, the Act specifically requires the system to accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities. This document is a detailed examination of quality management systems.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            7

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The following section explains quality-related terminology. The subsequent sections suggest an  approach  to  quality  management  for  the  NQF  system  as  a  whole  followed  by  an examination  of  the  ETQAs’  role  within  the  system.  Lastly,  possible  differences  in  the challenges that face ETQAs in different sectors, and the implications of how they fulfill their role, are discussed.

8                                                                                                           Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 2

Quality Terminology

“Q

uality” has become a discipline in its own right, and, like many disciplines, terms assume very specific meanings. In many contexts, where experts will understand the differences  between  the  terms;  many  lay  people  will  think  they  are  synonymous.  The following  explanations  of key terminology  are offered to help clarify understanding  and

stimulate dialogue.

Quality Management Systems (QMS)

The ETQA Regulation (R1127) gives the following definition:

“The combination of processes used to ensure that the degree of excellence specified is achieved.”

A more general explanation of the purpose of a QMS would be as follows:

“A quality management system is the sum of the activities and information an organisation uses to enable it to better and more consistently  deliver products  and services that meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its customers and beneficiaries, more cost effectively and cost efficiently, today and in the future.”

Ultimately QMS is about creating a “quality” culture across an organisation.

Key considerations in QMS are securing continual improvement in quality, today and in the future. It is about more than sustaining quality or even assuring quality today. It is about maximising the ability of the organisation to consistently deliver high quality products and services into the future, in changing circumstances. Quality Assurance, Quality Audit and  Quality Control are elements  of, but not the totality  of, a  Quality Management System.

Critical elements of a quality management system that are not normally associated with quality assurance/audit/control are those concerned with:

  • Enhancing quality, cost effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Positioning the organisation so that it can sustain quality standards during periods of change.
  • Ensuring prompt and effective responses to changes in the expectations and needs of customers.

Organisations that adopt quality management systems assume that everyone in the organisation impacts on the quality of services or products. It is generally recognised that in all but the

smallest  organisations,  prompt  responses  to  change  depend  on  flattening  organisational

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                            9

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

hierarchy and delegating as much responsibility as is possible to those who directly deliver the service(s). Effective responses depend on a clear understanding of what is important to the client, what the required standard is, and ownership of the requisite skills and knowledge.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance refers to the sum of activities that assure the quality of products and services at the time of production or delivery. It includes:

  • Clarifying and describing accurately and comprehensively what the customer expects and needs.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have a clear, comprehensive and accurate understanding of the quality standard.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have available resources and systems that can deliver the required quality.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have the skills, knowledge and motivation to make the products or deliver the service.
  • Ensuring that those who make the product or deliver the service have the means and skills to monitor the quality of what they make or deliver and to modify what they do to better meet the required standard.
  • Independently auditing and monitoring quality and feeding back this information to those who produce or provide or are otherwise in a position to contribute to enhancing quality.

Quality assurance procedures are frequently applied only to the activities and products associated directly with the goods and services provided to external customers.

Quality Audits

Quality Auditing is part of, but not the totality of, a Quality Assurance System. Quality audits are activities undertaken to measure the quality of products or services that have already been made or delivered. Where a product or service has a number of components, each component may be subject to an audit. The findings of such an audit could contribute to achieving the desired quality end product or service. However, it is the decisions taken in response to the findings of the audit that influence the quality experienced by the customer, either with respect to that which has been audited or with respect to future products or services. Often different people  take  these  decisions  to  those  who  carry  out  the  audit;  indeed  it  is  generally recommended that it should be so. Therefore, in itself a quality audit has no impact on quality.

Quality Control

A Quality Audit only controls quality when the findings are used to decide whether or not a product is delivered to the customer. An audit cannot control the quality of a service because the audit can only happen while the service is being delivered or afterwards. At best an audit may influence the quality of services in the future.

The person who makes the product or delivers the service controls quality ultimately.

Even where an audit is used to decide if a product is fit to deliver to the external customer, the

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Quality Terminology      2

person or people who make the product control the quality of goods that are delivered to the auditor: the internal customer.

Note 1: A Note about Quality and Cost

In many  contexts  quality  management  systems  are often  regarded  as a zero  cost  item.  The outcome of an effective quality management system means that an organisation provides products or services that consistently  meet or exceed customers  expectations,  even as the expectations and needs change. As a result, the organisation will be able to recover the cost of the QMS through increased business, through reduced waste, reduced expenditure associated with pacifying dissatisfied customers and making good that which is unsatisfactory, and/or through being able to charge a higher price for increased added-value.

The means by which Providers of education,  training and qualifications  and standards,  or any other part of the NQF system will be able to recover costs is not clear.

Quality management systems thus will have a cost. The challenge is to create and operate quality

management systems that maximise effectiveness within the resources that are available.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 3

Quality Management Systems

The achievement, maintenance and enhancement of quality depend on establishing an organisational culture that puts quality first. While the processes of quality assurance and auditing  are  important,  they  tend  to  deal  with  the  here  and  now.  On  the  other  hand, achievement of consistently high standards of quality, even when product and service specifications change, depends on establishing strong foundations and preparing for the future. A quality management system is concerned with assuring and maximising quality now and in the future.

As already noted, it is the person who delivers a service or makes a product that controls its quality. However, everybody employed in an organisation, directly or indirectly impacts on the quality of products or services as experienced by the ultimate customer: the external customer. Each team and employee has a customer for his or her activities, often within the organisation itself: an internal customer.

Thus, an important facet of a QMS is empowering and enabling each employee and team to deliver services or products of the quality required by their customers, internal or external, today, tomorrow, next week and next year. Given the pace of change, frequently this can only be effected if each employee is enabled and empowered to adapt practices and procedures to better  meet  new  customer  expectations  and  needs.  This  argues  for  minimising  what  is prescribed in order to avoid inhibiting desirable action.

On the other hand, each employee needs to be clear about who their customers are and what their needs and expectations are. This information needs to be readily available in a clear and easily understandable form. Further, as the external customers’ needs or expectations change, as the organisation introduces new technologies, materials and systems to better, more cost effectively and efficiently meet the external customers’ expectations and needs, so the needs of internal customers will change. Individual employees therefore need to know what is expected of them, and this information has to be made available in a way that can be quickly modified to reflect changes.

If employees are to be empowered and enabled to enhance the quality of the services and products that they create or provide, they need to know how well they are doing and what could be done better. They need regular, authoritative and constructive feedback on performance. This means that the quality of products and services delivered needs to be regularly monitored. Additionally, customer satisfaction needs to be regularly monitored in order to ensure that the quality standard continues to meet their needs and expectations.

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Quality Management Systems   3

Table  1: Characteristics of a Quality Management System

To summarise, a QMS:

  1. Identifies the customer or beneficiary (internal or external) for each role within an organisation and specifies the current standard that will meet or exceed the customer’s or beneficiary’s needs and expectations.
  1. Ensures all employees are empowered  and enabled to continually  contribute  to achieving the required quality standard.

All employees and teams within the organisation should know how their responsibilities affect product   or  service  quality   and  have  criteria   against  which   they  can  measure  their performances as they impact on quality. As part of this, each employee should know who his or her customers are (who benefits or depends on their activities) and what would constitute a high quality of service for them.

Each employee or team should be equipped  with the skills, knowledge  and resources of the necessary quality to be able to deliver products  or services of the required standard.

  1. 3. Ensures all employees are empowered and enabled to monitor their impact on quality and contribute to its

All employees and teams should be enabled and required to continually monitor their impact on quality (and be provided with independent audit information about their conformance  with the required standard), so that they can identify  where they could  contribute  to enhancing quality, and plan and take action toward that end.

Users’  perceptions   of  the  quality  of  services  received  should  be  reviewed  regularly. Providers of services should review feedback from users and identify how quality might be improved, and plan and act to improve performance.

  1. Creates and sustains a ‘quality’ culture.

The continual and consistent  achievement and maintenance of high quality standards under conditions  where clients’ expectations  are likely to continue to change depends on creating and supporting  a quality culture in the organisation.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In essence, an effective quality management system establishes a quality spiral as standards are continually enhanced.

Diagram 1: Quality Spirals

14                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Chapter 4

A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

In many ways, the NQF System is comparable to a large organisation, having a clear and shared purpose laid out in the Act. Within the “NQF Organisation” SAQA creates the vision, sets the policies, defines the timetable, delegates the tasks and defines quality of performance for those to whom they are delegated. It is the equivalent of the Board and senior executive of an organisation. The SGBs define the service standards in terms of the specific outcomes that should match the vision described by SAQA. The Providers are the powerhouses, the productive unit, the creators and constituent Providers of the service. The ETQAs have the quality audit and assurance role.

But what of the NSBs and the suggested Moderating Bodies? What is their role within this organisation? Their task is complex and diverse. As already discussed, the NQF entails providing services that are diverse in the content, as diverse as the customers for the service. By creating multiple NSBs, to act in essence as agents of SAQA, this diversity is managed. SAQA requires that each NSB include representation from the various stakeholders for the ultimate service. In this way, SAQA is seeking to ensure that the standards developed by individual SGBs reflect the vision, address the problems identified and meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders. Their role is to quality assure the standards setters.

The potential Moderating Bodies have a similar role. To simplify operations, Providers are to be served by a single ETQA, but the implementation of standards is not to be limited to a particular sector of Providers. (Indeed this would be contrary to two of the goals of the Act, the development of an integrated framework and enhanced mobility between the different parts of the system of Providers). So different ETQAs will be quality-assuring  services based  on  the  same  standards.  Mobility  and  credibility  will  depend  on  an  adequately consistent interpretation of the standards by all that use them. The role of the Moderating Bodies will be to assure this consistency across ETQAs. They too are agents of SAQA.

Table 2 examines the responsibilities of each part of the “NQF Organisation” in managing quality.

As will be noted, each body within the “NQF Organisation” contributes to the quality management system in a variety of ways. Through its consultations and publications, and through fostering wider debate, SAQA is fostering a quality culture. It is also enabling its partners to play their part through clarifying their roles and responsibilities and by helping

them to examine what that means in the context of the NQF.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table  2: Managing Quality in the  “NQF Organisation”

Responsibilities

SAQA                                 SGBs

Create and sustain a ‘quality’ culture throughout the “NQF Organisation”

Continually ask of itself and of all parts of the NQF Organi-sation “How are we doing, how could we do

better?”

Identification of customers and

beneficiaries

Defined by the Act

Interpreted by SAQA

Ensure the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity

of the standards and qualifications

General expectation specified by the Act, interpreted by SAQA, especially regarding

breadth, nature and format

Define clear, comprehensive standards and qualifications that are fit for the various purposes defined by the Act

and SAQA

Ensure standard and qualifications is accurately and comprehensively understood

Provide general guidance about the standards and qualifications and their purpose and the wider goals of the NQF

Provide specific guidance regarding the purpose, interpretation and application of the standards and qualifications, associated

learning and assessment

Ensure facilitator of learning and assessment has relevant skills and knowledge to facilitate learning and

design sound assessments

Ensure that facilitators of learning and assessment have access to the requisite

skills and knowledge

Provide guidance on the skills and knowledge required by the facilitator of

learning and assessment

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A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

Providers                           ETQAs                               NSBs                                  Moderating Bodies

Continually ask of themselves, “How are we doing, how could we do better? What do our customers require of us?

How can we ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

What do our ‘internal customers’ (SGBs, Providers, ETQAs, NSBs and Moderating Bodies) need of us?

How can we ensure they are getting what they need and expect of us?

Enable and empower employees to deliver services to or above the required or expected standard

Regularly set goals for new and improved services, design and deliver improved services that meet or exceed customers’ expectations

Help customers identify learning opportunities and qualifications and standards that match their needs and

aspirations

Contribute to assuring standards quality by collecting field information and providing feedback to

NSBs/SGBs

Assure standards and qualifications developed by SGBs match the expectations and needs

of SAQA

Ensure facilitators of learning and assessment are adequately briefed, receive the standards and qualifications in good time

and can accurately interpret

the guidance

Assure that standards and qualifications can be easily and accurately interpreted by facilitators of learning and assessment and that

comprehensive and useable

guidance is available

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment have the relevant skills and knowledge or can readily acquire them

Confirm that Providers ensure that facilitator of learning and assessment has requisite skills and knowledge

Ensure that SGBs provide clear, valid and comprehensive guidance on the skills and knowledge that facilitators of learning and

assessment will require

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table  2 continued:  Managing Quality in the  “NQF Organisation”

Responsibilities                         SAQA                              SGBs

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment can and does monitor the effectiveness of learning and assessment strategies

Ensure relevant training of learning and assessment facilitator in technically sound assessment methods

is readily accessible

Ensure that resources of a suitable quality are available

Define standards and qualifications that are realistic given the resources that are, or can be made

available.

Provide guidance on the resources that are required to facilitate and assess

learning

Regularly assess customer satisfaction, report on it and identify where expectations and needs are not being met

Audit service quality and report on that is achieved

Regularly seek and receive feedback from Government and national representatives of key stakeholder groups

Regularly seek and receive feedback from ‘internal customers’: NSBs, Providers, ETQAs and stakeholders represented on the SGBs

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4

A quality management system for the National

Qualifications Framework  (NQF)

Providers                             ETQAs                               NSBs                        Moderating Bodies

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment has assessor skills and regularly monitors effectiveness of learning facilitation and

assessment activities

Confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitator of learning and assessment regularly monitors and reports on effectiveness of learning and assessment

activities

Ensure that the facilitator of learning and assessment modifies practices when desirable, in the light of

past effectiveness

Confirm that Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from

monitoring activities

Ensure the facilitator of learning and assessment knows and understands the resources necessary to achieve the required

standard and qualifications.

Ensure standards and qualifications are realistic given the resources that are, or could be made, available

Provide those resources that fall within the responsibility of the

Providers

Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect

Ensure clear and adequate guidance on resources required is made available

Regularly seek, receive and evaluate feedback from learners for qualifications and standards and their

sponsors

Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their

‘internal customers’: SAQA, Providers, NSBs/SGBs and

stakeholders

Regularly seek and receive feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA and stakeholders represented

on NSBs

Regularly seek and receive feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA and ETQAs

Establish and operate internal audit processes

Monitor Providers outcomes and internal audit processes. Report to Providers, SAQA

and NSBs/SGBs

Monitor ETQAs and report to SAQA and give feedback to ETQAs

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 5

The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Regulations R1127, under the South African Qualifications and standards Authority Act, 1995 specifies the roles and responsibilities of ETQAs. They are accredited by SAQA for “the purpose of monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of national standards or qualifications and standards”.

Their quality management functions are to:

  1. Accredit  Constituent  Providers  (subject  to  them  having the  capacity  to  deliver relevant learning and assessment opportunities) for specific standards or qualifications and standards.
  2. Promote quality amongst Providers.
  3. Monitor provision by Providers.
  4. Evaluate assessment (by Providers) and facilitate moderation amongst Providers.
  5. Register constituent assessors for specified standards or qualifications.
  6. Take responsibility for the certification of learners.
  7. Co-operate with Moderating Bodies appointed by SAQA.
  8. Recommend  new  standards  or  qualifications  to  NSBs,  or  modifications  to  existing standards.
  9. Maintain a database acceptable to SAQA.
  10. Submit reports.
  11. 1 Perform such other functions as may be assigned by SAQA.

While an ETQA can delegate some of these functions, for example to providers, they cannot delegate accountability.

Of the 10 functions specified in detail and that contribute to quality management, only two, functions 3 and 4, directly pertain to auditing and monitoring quality as specified in the Regulations. One might speculate that this is a practical compromise arising from the recognition that auditing and monitoring are amongst the least cost-effective methods of assuring and securing the required quality but probably have the highest level of credibility in the eyes of the public. Nevertheless, it is also important to keep in mind that the Regulations recognise that the ETQAs will influence quality in a variety of ways including but not solely through auditing and monitoring.

Table  2  identifies  55  ways  in  which  the  bodies  that  make  up  the  “NQF  Organisation” contribute to achieving the desired quality. Only 10 of these fall under the ETQAs. The roles and responsibilities given to the ETQAs’ are critical in securing the desired quality but so are the remaining 45 that fall to their partners: every part of the “NQF Organisation” contributes to securing and assuring the quality of learning opportunities and qualifications and standards.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

The system will be only as good as the weakest link.

Table 2 reviews the roles that contribute to quality from the most to the least cost effective. Those attributed to the ETQAs are listed in Table 3 in order of declining cost-effectiveness.

Table  3: The Quality Management Roles  of ETQAs within the  “NQF System”

  1. Create and sustain a quality culture.
  2. Contribute to ensuring  the  relevance,  comprehensiveness  and  clarity  of  the  standards  and qualifications.
  3. Confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills.
  4. Confirm that Providers  regularly  monitor  and  report  on  the  effectiveness  of  learning  and qualifications and standards.
  5. Confirm that the Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities.
  6. Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect.
  7. Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their customers’:  SAQA, Providers,  NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies and stakeholders.
  8. Monitor Providers outcomes and internal audit process and report back to Providers, SAQA and

NSBs.

Each of the above divides into a number of activities. These are described in Table 4 and discussed in the text following.

A fundamental role of the ETQA is to assure the quality of the services made available by

Providers. There are three basic processes involved in quality assurance in this context:

  • Accreditation, through which the Provider satisfies the ETQA that it is able and willing to deliver services of the quality required.
  • Monitoring, by the Provider, of the quality achieved and reporting this information to the

ETQA.

  • Auditing, through which the ETQA assures the integrity and accuracy of the submitted reports. This will entail the detailed scrutiny of the reports and visits to the Provider to check their authenticity and accuracy.

Accreditation, monitoring and auditing are likely to be annual events, at least initially. After the first year, re-accreditation will be closely linked to the receipt of reports from the Provider and any audit of the Provider that the ETQA has conducted.

Through the accreditation process the ETQA will want to be assured that:

  • The Provider’s quality aspirations address each of the quality indicators and are both ambitious and yet realistic.
  • The Provider has, or will put in place, systems to collect sufficient, authentic, current, and valid evidence pertaining to the quality achieved.
  • The Provider has or will ensure that all of the resources necessary to meet the quality expectation (including staff competent in learning facilitation and assessment) are or will

be available.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

The ETQA and Provider will also agree what information is to be reported by when and how. An ETQA may wish to establish standardised forms to be used by Providers for reporting achievements for each indicator. They will also require information about progress towards establishing and maintaining a quality culture within the Providing organisation, for example the achievement of the Investors in People award or ISO 9000:2000.

The current quality indicators are based on the objectives of the NQF, for both qualifications and programmes, that Providers:

  • Use the standards and integrate theory and practice.
  • Utilise suitable learning and assessment processes for the prescribed learning outcomes.
  • Better enable individual learners to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the country and the individual’s social-political-economic development.
  • Facilitate and enhance access, mobility and progression.
  • Redress previous inequities, particularly making available opportunities for those who could not previously access them.
  • Periodically collect, store and report information describing achievements for each of the other indicators.

Providers are expected to continually monitor their achievements against the goals they have agreed with the ETQA, for each indicator. As noted above, these achievements will be formally reported to the ETQA each year.

The process of auditing is considered in more detail later in this Section. It is suggested that the most recent report by the Provider will be the primary focus for an audit although the ETQA may also wish to review evidence of achievement against the indicators for other reasons; for example in response to SAQA’s current agenda and the needs of the SGBs.

In  conformance  with  their  developmental  role,  ETQAs  will  want  to  ensure  that  a Provider’s goals for assuring and enhancing quality are ambitious, but realistic and adequately address all indicators of quality. The annual accreditation process will probably build on the Provider’s report of achievements. They may entail negotiations through which the ETQA will foster the inculcation of a quality culture within the Providing organisation. The ETQA will

provide feedback on where improvements are necessary or desirable.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Table  4: Activities Associated with the  Quality Management Roles  of ETQAs

  1. To create and sustain a quality culture:
  • ETQAs should continually ask and address the following questions:

“How well are we contributing  to assuring the quality of learning opportunities  and qualifications and standards  within the NQF, through  our auditing, monitoring  and feedback  activities?  How could we do better?”

“What do our customers (SAQA, Providers, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating  bodies and stakeholders) require of us? How can we better ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

  • An ETQA should establish a service contract with each of its customers:  SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies, stakeholders and Providers.
  • An ETQA should define what it requires of each role within its organisation and set standards of performance that link to the customers’ expectations  and needs from its service contracts.
  1. To contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of the standards:
  • An ETQA must establish a working relationship with its Providers such that they (the Providers) are motivated to provide the requisite information in a timely and well argued and ordered fashion.
  • ETQAs will require facilitators of learning and assessment to have in place well considered  and effective mechanisms to regularly collect and review how well their programmes and qualifications and standards meet existing and potential learners’ needs and mechanisms whereby facilitators of learning and assessment or assessors can register apparent inadequacies in the standards.
  • Providers will be required to periodically report information about inadequacies in standards and qualifications and regarding the need for new standards  to the ETQA, as part of their regular feedback activities.
  • ETQAs will need mechanisms to check why standards are not met, when that is the case.
  1. To confirm that Providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills:
  • Regularly require Providers to make a formal statement confirming that facilitators of learning and assessment and assessors are competent as defined by the relevant SGB.
  • ETQAs will check the authenticity of such statements during audits.
  1. To confirm that Providers regularly monitor and report on the effectiveness of learning and assessment activities:
  • It is envisaged that ETQAs will require (as part of an Accreditation Agreement) Providers to make a clear statement of how quality will be regularly monitored and reported.
  • ETQAs will want to assure themselves of the validity and sufficiency  of both  reports  and the constituent data, and that the process of collecting and analysing the data has been undertaken

diligently and with integrity.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Table 4 continued

  1. To confirm that the Providers ensure that practices are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities:
  • Providers should share with the ETQA their quality enhancement achievements and goals. This information would be reviewed and checked by ETQAs for its validity and currency at the time of auditing and monitoring visits.
  1. To confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect:
  • ETQAs should invite Providers  to describe  how  relevant resources  will be made available to learners and candidates.
  • The ETQAs will ensure that the access-to-resources requirements of standards are met at the time of accreditation  and during subsequent audits or monitoring activities.
  1. To regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their ‘internal customers’: SAQA, Providers, NSB, SGB and stakeholders:
  • ETQAs will ensure that their reports provide all of the information required by SAQA in a form that is easy to use and interpret accurately.
  • Similarly with regard to periodic feedback to NSBs, the ETQA should check on the usefulness of what is reported and seek advice as to how its value might be enhanced.
  • The requirements of Providers regarding reporting will be described clearly in the Accreditation

Agreement and will be subject to regular review.

  • ETQAs will  provide   regular,  constructive   feedback   to  Providers  regarding  the  utility  and substance of reports received, and help them minimise the work required to produce them.
  1. To monitor Providers  outcomes  and  their  internal  audit  process  and  report  back  to

Providers, SAQA and NSBs:

  • ETQAs may audit Providers for one, or a combination, of reasons. Six reasons are identified on page 29.
  • ETQAs will assure the quality of external exams or tests during the design phase and their completion. Six steps are identified on page 30.
  • ETQAs will  assure  the  quality  assessments  that  are  designed,   delivered  and  evaluated

institutionally. Six steps are identified on page 31.

Where a Provider does not meet the required standards, there is scope for provisional accreditation for up to two years, subject to the Provider implementing a development programme that is agreed with the ETQA, and that addresses the issues of concern. Under these conditions it is incumbent on the ETQA to provide what assistance it can to help the Provider identify priorities for enhancing quality, and suggest what it might need to do.

Where an ETQA considers that the performance of a Provider, or its progress in enhancing performance, is unsatisfactory with respect to any aspect of quality, they would need to consider

if the Provider should no longer be accredited.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

A: Create and sustain a quality culture

A set of questions has been identified, the answers to which should inform the two activities:

‘Enabling and empowering employees to deliver services to or above the standard required’ and ‘Regularly set goals for new and improved services’. Applying them to the ETQA context, the questions can be expressed as follows:

“How well are we contributing  to assuring the quality of learning opportunities and qualifications and standards within the NQF, through our auditing, monitoring and feedback activities? How could we do better?”

“What do our customers (SAQA, Providers, NSBs, SGBs, Moderating  bodies and stakeholders)

require of us? How can we better ensure that they are getting what they need and expect from us?”

The answers to these questions should enable an ETQA to regularly set itself new goals that represent better standards of service. The answers should enable an ETQA to identify where performance within its organisational structure could be improved and take steps to secure improvements through enabling and empowering its employees to do better.

The questions are deceptively simple. The challenge is collecting the data that accurately reflects  how well the organisation  is doing  in each  of the activities  associated  with the

remaining quality responsibilities discussed below.

Ideally an ETQA should establish a service contract with each of its customers: SAQA, NSBs, SGBs, moderating bodies, stakeholders and Providers.

A service contract specifies precisely but comprehensively and clearly the services that will be provided, to whom, when and to what standard.

Given that each ETQA will need to establish a service contract with SAQA and with the NSBs, there would be value in a group of ETQAs negotiating a standard contract with SAQA and with a representative group of NSBs/SGBs. SAQA might take the lead, bringing together representative groups to facilitate the drafting of these service agreements. The service contract with SAQA would reflect the overarching responsibility of SAQA and the expectation that it will have to produce regular reports to Ministers and others on progress in implementing the NQF.

It will also reflect the ETQA quality assurance role. Similarly, ETQA relationships with the NSBs/SGBs also reflect quality assurance responsibilities.

Given the diversity of the relationship between each ETQA and its Providers the service contract between ETQAs and Providers is likely to vary somewhat. However, it is likely to deal with most aspects of their quality management relationship.

It may well be that the service contracts identified will cover all stakeholders. On the other hand, the Professional Bodies and SETAs have other accountabilities. They would be well advised to establish service contracts with these other groups to whom they account, to ensure

that all their responsibilities are equally well defined.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

An ETQA should define what it requires of each role within its organisation and set standards of performance that link to the customers’  expectations  and needs from its service contracts.

Dependent on the criticality of tasks associated with these performance standards, performance data might be collected monthly, quarterly or annually, preferably, primarily by those undertaking the activities. Each employee should be encouraged to review performance periodically (for example, quarterly), note and celebrate improvements, and set targets for enhanced performance, including identifying learning needs and how they will be met.

These procedures not only have the capacity to establish a quality culture in the ETQA, but will provide substance for two of the quality management requirements identified in the Regulations: 9 “Maintain a database acceptable to SAQA” and “Submit reports”.

B: Contribute to ensuring the relevance, comprehensiveness and clarity of the standards

ETQAs’ prime responsibility in this context is the provision of field intelligence to the NSBs in conformance with quality management “Recommend new standards or qualifications to NSBs, or modifications to existing standards and qualifications”.

An ETQA must establish a working relationship with its Providers such that they (the Providers) are motivated to provide the requisite information in a timely, well argued and ordered fashion.

Where an intermediary is involved, an ETQA must ensure that it establishes a similar relationship with Providers. This is particularly pertinent to the identification of new standards and qualifications and standards that may be needed.

Indeed Providers who have a quality culture are interested in what their learners feel about

the services received.

ETQAs will require facilitators of learning and assessment to have in place:

  • Well-considered  and  effective  mechanisms  to  regularly  collect  and  review  how  well  their programmes and qualifications and standards meet existing and potential learners’ needs.
  • Mechanisms whereby facilitators of learning and assessment can register apparent inadequacies

in the qualifications and standards.

For clients of education and training, the most important characteristics of quality are usually:

  1. Relevance (of what is learned to the purpose of learning).
  2. The learning process (the process enabling the individual to learn).
  3. Accessibility (having in mind the learner’s circumstances).
  4. Currency (having regard to the purpose for learning).

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For qualifications, in addition to relevance and accessibility, reliability and currency are the important characteristics of quality. In addition to information about the relevance and clarity of the standards, learner surveys will collect information about many other facets of their learning and assessment experiences as considered below.

Providers will be required to periodically  report information  about inadequacies  in standards  and regarding the need for new standards, to the ETQA, as part of their regular feedback activities.

The inadequacies registered by facilitators of learning and assessment may relate to their perceptions of learners’ needs and expectations or their own experiences in attempting to use the standards.

In the event that providers are delivering similar qualifications and standards, an issue that may need  to be considered,  regarding  possible  new standards  and qualifications,  is that ETQAs should check such providers to determine if they perceive a similar need. There is no doubt, if such a need is identified by a number of Providers, the development of the requisite standards and qualifications may assume a higher priority. On the other hand, if Providers are in competition, it may be that the matter should be handled in a confidential manner so that

the Provider who has identified the need retains a market advantage.

ETQAs will need mechanisms to check why standards are not met, when that is the case.

In addition to representations from Providers, the need to modify existing standards and qualifications  may  be  noted  from  other  quality  management  activities.  For  example,  a failure to meet the required standards may be the outcome of poorly expressed standards, of standards  that  are  unachievable,  or  standards  and  qualifications  that  are  irrelevant  or otherwise do not motivate learners. This places a premium on ETQAs having mechanisms to investigate why a standard has not been met. Ideally, and in keeping with a quality culture, such investigations would be undertaken with the full collaboration of the Provider and in a way that is constructive rather than punitive.

C: Confirm that providers ensure that the facilitators of learning and assessment have the requisite skills

Ensuring that those who facilitate learning and who assess individuals for the purpose of awarding qualifications are competent  (as defined by the SGBs/NSBs or SAQA when relevant) is primarily the responsibility  of the Provider. Confirming that the Provider is meeting its responsibility  is the role of the ETQA.

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It is likely to be confirmed, initially, through the accreditation process: “Accredit Constituent Providers” and subsequently through auditing the Provider: “Monitor provision by Providers”. With respect to summative assessment, it is also a responsibility of ETQAs: “Register constituent assessors for specified standards or qualifications”.

In the past, if the competence of facilitators of learning and assessment was subject to external confirmation, it normally happened prior to the Provider gaining approval to run a specific programme. Additionally, if the problem was significant, Providers may have been required to notify the external body every time there was a change in the people involved and confirm their competence.

It is stated in the NSB Regulations that SGBs must provide criteria for the registration of assessors with regard to specific standards and qualifications. This implies that the criteria

would include skills and knowledge.

Providers will be required to make a formal statement that learning and assessment facilitators are competent,  ETQAs would probably check the authenticity  of such statements during audits.

ETQAs will need to decide, in the light of experience, if this is something that should be confirmed only once, periodically, or routinely. In any event, it is likely that the recommendations or specifications of the SGBs are being observed.

Perhaps more challenging, however, is that the Act foresees different learning outcomes that carry with them a need for different and new learning and assessment strategies. The facilitation  techniques  traditionally  used  to  facilitate  knowledge  transmission  from  the learning providers to learner, and the assessment techniques used to determine to what extent transmission had happened are being increasingly challenged in both this context and others.

There is general recognition that didactic teaching is not very effective at helping individuals  to  acquire  deep  (enduring)  knowledge.  To  secure  deep  knowledge,  learners require opportunities to apply the knowledge in contexts that are relevant to them. To acquire enduring and transferable skills, individuals require regular opportunities to practice them in diverse contexts. The regular provision of informative feedback further enhances learning.

Similarly, traditional tests or quizzes have limitations as assessment tools. At best they test knowledge or the application of basic skills (especially basic skills in reading, writing and numeracy).

At worst they assess the facilitator of learning and assessment’s ability to devise good tests and the learner’s ability to read the mind of the facilitator of learning and assessment. Increasingly there is recognition that if we want to know about an individual’s ability to use skills and knowledge in contexts outside of the classroom, we need different ways of assessing: authentic assessment. There is a steady trend towards assessing performance. This trend should not be taken to imply there is no value in traditional forms of examinations and tests. We just need to be more realistic about what they can and cannot tell us, especially with regard to abilities that need to be used outside of the classroom and examinations hall.

Too many facilitators of learning and assessment lack confidence, experience and knowledge of how to facilitate learning in this way, or how to develop skills, especially problem solving, teamwork and communication skills. A similar problem pertains to assessment. It is probable that

most ETQAs will come across these problems regularly.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

D: Confirm that providers regularly monitor and report on the effectiveness of learning and assessment activities

ETQAs are required to: “Accredit Constituent Providers” and “ Facilitate moderation amongst

Providers”.

For the success of the NQF, Providers must meet the objectives which are ensuring integration and the achievement of learning outcomes through maximising the effectiveness of teaching and assessment, enhanced access, mobility and progression, the personal and national development of the learner and the redress of past inequalities. Providers need to regularly determine how well they are doing in terms of the above objectives, and learners’ satisfaction with the services provided. Indeed they are in the best position to assure the quality of services.

It is envisaged that ETQAs will require (as part of an Accreditation  Agreement) Providers to:

  • Set goals for each objective that represents an improvement on those previously achieved.
  • Make a clear statement of how quality will be regularly monitored and reported with each objective.
  • Report progress against identified goals.

It has already been noted that this will include surveys of learners and that through these surveys, inadequacies in the standards and qualifications will be noted. In addition, it would be desirable for learners to be invited to comment on the following:

  • Initial advice and support when choosing a programme or qualification.
  • Effectiveness of learning opportunities.
  • Apparent validity and fairness of assessments.
  • Adequacy and helpfulness of feedback.
  • Availability of resources.
  • Enhancement of the learner’s personal and national development.
  • Redress of past inequalities.

Providers  should  also  collect  information  from  learners  to  learn  how  well  the  chosen programme or qualification helps the individual achieve her or his goals.

Ideally, a Provider would collect and analyse such information from all learners or from a significant sample. The frequency with which this information is summarised and passed to the ETQA may vary depending on the numbers of learners involved, the diversity of programmes and the qualifications and standards offered by the Provider and the ETQA’s

reporting responsibilities. However, it is likely to be required at least once a year.

ETQAs will  want  to  assure  themselves  of  the  validity  and  sufficiency  of  both  reports  and  the constituent  data, and that the process  of collecting  and analysing the data has been undertaken diligently and with integrity.

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The  submission  of  reports  on  a  regular  basis  would  provide  evidence  of  the  activity. Consistency in data and analysis would suggest diligence and accuracy but spot checks during auditing activities would be desirable.

Hopefully, over a period of a few years, a Provider would demonstrate a commitment to a quality culture and that it values and uses the data collected. Once an ETQA is persuaded of the commitment of the Provider to the effective monitoring of the quality of the services it provides, the focus of auditing must move to analysis rather than the need for the collection of data.

E: Confirm that the providers  ensure that practices  are enhanced in the light of what is learned from monitoring activities

Collecting and analysing data will not of itself assure or enhance the quality of a Provider’s services. It is the dissemination of that information to facilitators of learning and assessment and its use to plan and secure changes in practice that can lead to improved quality.

Providers should share with the ETQA their quality enhancement achievements and goals for each objective. This information would be reviewed and checked by ETQAs for its validity and currency at the time of auditing and monitoring visits.

ETQAs are required to “Promote quality amongst Providers. It would make most sense if Providers reports were linked to goals identified in previous reports, feedback from the ETQA subsequent to auditing and monitoring activities and the outcomes of learner surveys.

Again, the frequency with which this information is summarised and passed to the ETQAs may vary depending on the number of programmes/qualifications and standards involved, the diversity of programmes and qualifications and standards offered by the Provider and the ETQA’s reporting responsibilities. However, it is likely to be required at least once a year.

F: Confirm that suitable resources are available and are used to good effect

Along with C and D above, access to suitable resources is likely to be confirmed initially as part of the accreditation process (1. “Accredit Constituent Providers”).

The  ETQA’s  responsibility   will  be  to  ensure  that  resources  required  for  the  standards   and qualifications are met and there is access to those resources at the time of accreditation  and during subsequent audits or monitoring activities.

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In the past, where it has been the practice to accredit Providers, the availability of resources has been a major consideration, often examined in more detail than the competence of the facilitators of learning and assessment. The situation is changing, however.

Knowledge, technology and systems are advancing quickly, and their application is becoming more diverse and specialised. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Providers to sustain the currency of libraries and equipment. Indeed, in many instances it is just not possible, because financial resources are not available. Often, what are required are, on the one hand, the opportunity to develop basic skills and on the other, real-life learning experiences. The former may indeed require access to workshops and laboratories but the latter is more likely to be provided directly through assignments that draw on real-life.

More than ever before, we are recognising that there are increasingly diverse opportunities to learn, for example through the use of Internet and from daily experiences (that may be identified and created by the Provider).

As with learning facilitation and assessment skills, (C above), it is stated in the NSB

regulations that the SGB should provide guidance on the resources that need to be available with regard to specific standards and qualification.

ETQAs should  invite Providers  to  describe  how  relevant resources  will be made  available to learners at the time of initial accreditation.

It may be that the Provider will not have the specific resources but plans to access them in some way, for example, through work placements. The effectiveness of these arrangements can be monitored in a number of ways such as:

  • The Provider should regularly seek confirmation from learners that adequate resources were available (D above).
  • As part of auditing and monitoring activities undertaken by the ETQA.

G: Regularly seek, receive and act on feedback from their

‘internal customers’: SAQA, providers, SGB, NSB and stakeholders

ETQAs are required to “Co-operate with Moderating Bodies appointed by SAQA”, “Maintain a  database  acceptable  to  SAQA”,  “Submit  reports”,  “Provide  feedback  to  NSBs”  and “Promote quality amongst Providers”. In each instance, the two-way flow of information is critical to achieving and sustaining high quality standards.

In essence the Moderating Bodies are agents of SAQA. They are charged with ensuring that

ETQAs, who accredit programmes and standards for the same standards, assure that adequately comparable standards are applied across them all.

It is incumbent on ETQAs to ensure that their reports provide all of the information required by SAQA

in a form that is easy to use and interpret accurately.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In addition to feedback received pertaining to the findings of Moderating Bodies, ETQAs will probably receive feedback about the utility and substance of reports submitted to SAQA. If there are inadequacies in the substance of such reports, it may mean that the ETQA will have to re-visit its analysis and interpretation of data collected, review its auditing and monitoring procedures, or revise its service agreement (Accreditation Agreement) with providers.

Similarly with  regard to periodic  feedback  to NSBs and SGBs, the ETQA should  check  on the usefulness of what is reported and seek advice as to how its value might be enhanced.

It is always easy to provide too much information. It is suggested that ETQAs continually seek feedback regarding the relevance and usefulness of the information they provide in order to identify ways in which reporting can be undertaken in a more concise and focused way.

Feedback  from  Moderating  Bodies,  SAQA or NSBs  may  suggest  that  more,  less  or

different information needs to be collected from Providers.

It is incumbent  on the ETQA to provide regular, constructive  feedback  to Providers regarding the utility and substance  of reports received, and help them minimise the work required to produce them.

ETQAs may identify ways in which the reporting of information by Providers might be made more effective and less time consuming for both parties.

It is suggested  that needs and expectations  are described  clearly in the Accreditation  Agreement and that they are the subject of regular review in order to better meet the needs of the ETQA and to reduce the work required of the Providers in their preparation.

The sector stakeholders will vary between ETQAs, where responsibilities go beyond those dictated for the “NFQ Organisation”; it is suggested that they should put in place similar systems to collect feedback from stakeholders.

H: Monitor constituent providers outcomes and internal audit process and report back to constituent providers, SAQA, NSB and SGB

ETQAs are charged with “Promoting quality amongst Providers”, “Monitoring provision by Providers”,  “Evaluating  assessment”,  and  “Taking  responsibility  for  the  certification  of learners”.

As already noted, auditing, in itself, is often one of the least cost-effective methods of managing quality and yet it is the process that often has the highest public visibility and credibility. Auditing, in the education and training context, assumes many different forms

depending on its purpose.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

ETQAs may audit Providers for one, or a combination,  of the following reasons. To collect evidence about:

  • The systems put in place by a Provider to assure the quality of its services.
  • Learning processes, Provider’s competence and resources.
  • Assessment of learning by Providers of learning opportunities.
  • Assessment undertaken by external bodies (examinations and qualification awarding bodies).
  • What has been learned, achieved, or is already known, through assessing the learner.
  • The degree to which access, mobility, progression and redress have been enhanced.

Auditing for the first three purposes has already been considered (see B-G above). Along with initial accreditation, audits for these purposes can be cost efficient. If they are supported by constructive feedback and a quality culture within the Provider organisation they can be very cost effective.

The effectiveness of assessment of learners (whether by the ETQA or intermediaries, such as an examination body, as a quality assurance mechanism, or by the learning Providers) depends on the technical soundness of the assessment. That is, it depends on the validity, sufficiency, currency and authenticity of the evidence collected and the consistency with which evidence is judged.

When assessment is used to contribute to assuring the quality of learning opportunities it provides a measure of how well the learning experience has prepared individuals for the assessment as well as what the learner may know and be able to do.

There is some concern in the assessment community as to how to assess, which is partially stimulated by fundamental questions regarding the purpose of learning. There is a growing acknowledgement that the demonstration of acquired knowledge and skills provides no guarantee of an individual’s ability to apply them in diverse contexts and that the learning of knowledge and skills through their application results in far deeper learning. This and other concerns have stimulated greater interest in assessing the ability to apply knowledge and skills in contexts that approximate real life.

Generally, the quality of assessments has been assured by reference to their content validity,

fairness and reliability (from a psychometric perspective).

Assessments  that  are designed,  delivered  and  evaluated  at  institutional  level,  may  be  quality assured by a selection from the following:

  • The provision of a detailed description of the required learning achievement.
  • Evidence of the competence of the assessor (as an assessor).
  • The provision, by the Providers, of assessment instruments for prior approval.
  • The submission of the evidence of learning generated by the learners (normally after it has been assessed institutionally) for the scrutiny of the qualifications and standards body or its agents.
  • The establishment of an internal quality assurance process within, by the Providers.
  • The regular or periodic scrutiny of the evidence of learning generated by the learners and the quality assurance process operated by the Providers and by a moderator.

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As noted previously, a few systems have made use of a combination of institutionally and externally designed assessments or the institutional application and evaluation of externally designed assessment instruments. Where a combination at institutional level and external assessment has been used, the results might be combined to generate a grade or one might be used to confirm the other.

There is growing interest in assessing performance, especially effective performance, in  work  contexts.  This  may  be  to  recognise  occupational,  professional  competence, especially where the ability to practice an occupation or profession is subject to some form of regulation. Similar assessments of occupational, professional competence have been adopted in countries that are concerned with facilitating mobility in the labour market, with upgrading the skills of the nation’s work force or with quality assuring employment related training. Such assessments have also been adopted in employment sectors where there is a desire to recognise competence, motivate employees to learn or enhance standards of performance. Professional bodies and those concerned with assessing occupational, professional competence are increasingly using a mixture of assessments: knowledge and skill  assessments  are  used  to  complement  assessment  by  Providers  of  education  and training  and  are  followed  by  a  period  of  assessment  on-the-job  before  gaining  full

recognition. This approach is considered in more detail in the next section.

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The ETQA’s role in the quality management system for the NQF

Summary

ETQAs, with SAQA, play a pivotal role within the quality management system of the NQF system. They can foster a quality culture within the NQF system both through creating such a culture within their own organisation and through helping and encouraging Providers to do the same.

However, if they are to foster a quality culture, they will depend on the other parts of the

NQF system (SAQA, NSBs/SGBs and Moderating Bodies) to play their part and will need to help them to do so.

In order to foster a quality culture amongst Providers ETQAs are likely to use a combination  of:

  • Initial accreditation  that  requires  Providers  to  undertake  a range  of  quality  assessment  and assurance activities and to report on the outcomes of these activities.
  • The monitoring activities  that  include  the direct  auditing  of reports,  systems,  processes  and outcomes and the judicious use of technically sound external assessment.
  • The use of technically  sound  assessments  to  confirm  the knowledge  and skills  of  learners, especially where it is to inform high-stakes decisions.
  • Annual reviews that include establishing and agreeing with Providers, new quality goals, taking

into account the previous year’s achievements and the outcomes of monitoring activities.

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Chapter 6:

Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact on their QMS

ETQAs have been identified in two sectors: education and training sub-systems and economic. However, the latter appears to be dividing into two sub-groups industry/commerce sectors and the professional sector. Each of these groups is considered below. The observations are summarised and compared in Table 5.

A: Education and training sub-system ETQAs

Education and training sub-system ETQAs will generally have significantly larger Providers, and many more learners for qualifications and standards than will be the case for ETQAs in the economic sector.

The  purposes  for  learning  that  will  be  served  by Providers  accountable  to

Education and training sub-system ETQAs are likely to fall within the first six purposes identified in appendix 1.

  1. Seek and find fulfillment in life.
  2. Contribute to the  stability  and  growth  of  society  and  the  well  being  of  all  members  of  a community.
  3. Progress in the field of education.
  4. Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.
  5. 5. Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute to the economic  survival and growth of a community  throughout  her/his working
  6. Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.

The nature of the learning outcomes will be such that they lend themselves to assessment through classroom-based assignments (especially purposes 1-3) and (for basic skills) tests. Purposes 4-6 are increasingly likely to require learning and the collection of evidence for assessment, away from the classroom. There will be considerable diversity in learning outcomes, content and the expertise of facilitators of learning and assessment.

If one  drew  a comparison  with  the  industrial  settings  in which  quality  management systems are well established, education is the equivalent of a high-volume business, participation in it is a long-term investment. Because it is not clear exactly how the learner will benefit economically from what is learned or from the qualification gained and because of the high-volume nature of the sector, quality management systems will tend more towards

the lower cost per individual learner than they would in the economic sector.

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

To be cost effective, ETQAs in this sector may need to delegate responsibilities to Providers. They, in turn, may delegate responsibilities within the organisation. Responsibilities may also be delegated to examinations  bodies  for the testing  of basic  knowledge  and skills where required,  or for quality assuring Providers’ assessments of basic skills and knowledge.

The development of a quality culture within Provider’s organisations will be of critical importance. ETQAs in this sector can only audit the achievements of a small sample of learners for qualifications and standards. They will be very dependent on the Providers’ internal quality audit systems and the effectiveness with which Providers establish a quality culture within different parts of the organisation. Indeed, Providers may have to further delegate quality assurance to departments or schools and establish systems to ensure that there is systematic and effective quality assurance through internal reporting and auditing mechanisms, perhaps using an Institutional Research team to collect learner satisfaction information.  The  role  of  Quality  Manager  may  be  given  to  a  senior  member  of  the executive,  or  assumed  by  the  head  of  each  division  within  the  organisation,  reporting directly to the head of the organisation.

Where learning occurs outside of the classroom, the Provider may look to others to contribute to learning and to the collection of evidence of what has been learned. ETQAs will be interested in how the quality of these learning experiences and the evidence collected is

assured by the Provider.

ETQAs may need to phase in initial accreditation  requirements regarding learning and assessment facilitator competence  over an extended period of time.

Because of the nature of what has to be learned, there is a strong argument for facilitators of learning and assessment trained to be effective assessors as well as learning Providers. In particular, a large scale and ongoing investment in helping these learning Providers to be better able to facilitate the development of, and assessment of, skills such a problem solving, team working and oral communication may be required.

ETQAs serving this sector are likely to be large, have specialist expertise in learning and assessment as well as quality assurance and a formal internal quality management system led by a designated quality manager.

Because of the large number of learners (the high volume of the market), one would expect a high level of technical professionalism with regard to learning and assessment amongst the officials of education and training sub-system ETQAs. Further, because the ETQAs in this sector are likely to be relatively large, the establishment of a formal internal quality management system will also be of critical importance. For example, all roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined, the customer (internal or external) for each should be identified and service standards specified comprehensively and in detail. Again, reflecting on the probable size of these ETQAs, there will

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

need to be well established and managed systems for evaluating how the organisation is doing and how individual employees are performing, with methods for celebrating successes and setting goals for future improvements.

It is advisable that education  and training sub-system  ETQAs provide specific models of QMS for their providers.

B: Economic sector ETQAs: Sector Education and Training

Authorities (SETAs)

SETA ETQAs will tend to work with smaller sized Providers and smaller numbers of learners per provider  than will be the case for education  and training  sub-system  ETQAs. The purposes  for learning  that  will  be served  by  their  Providers  are likely to  fall within  the  last  seven purposes identified in Appendix 1.

  1. Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.
  2. Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute to the economic survival and growth of a community throughout her/his working life.
  3. Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.
  4. Gain employment in specific jobs/occupations.
  5. To be recognized as competent in an occupation or job.
  6. Improve performance in specific work roles or tasks.
  7. Learn new skills and knowledge applicable to specific work roles or tasks.

However, reflecting on the wider objectives of the NQF to enhance education and training progression and contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large, many of their Providers will also be concerned with the following learning purposes:

  1. Contribute to the stability and growth of society and the well being of all members of a community
  2. Progress in the field of education and training

ETQAs, and their Providers, in this sector are likely to be relatively small, have sector specialist as well as quality assurance expertise, and an internal quality management system that reflects easier internal communication.

For learning purposes 4-10, much of the learning will take place in the workplace and in other, non-education contexts, partially at least through experiential learning. Workplace learning may be underpinned by learning in workshops and classrooms, but the most important evidence of what has been learned will come from its effective application in real life situations. Providing organisations are likely to be smaller and expertise will be more focused and less

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

diverse than in the case of the education and training sub-system Providers, reflecting their sector-specific remit. They are unlikely to require a separate quality manager.

It will be easier in this sector  to estimate  the added  value of quality  management  systems  and therefore assure and demonstrate their cost-effectiveness.

Because the learning is closely linked to performance in the workplace, the added value to learner and employer can be determined with some degree of certainty, especially for purposes

7-10. Given the ability to determine the potential added value, there will be greater certainty about what would constitute a worthwhile investment.

The link between investment and return is not necessarily as clear for purposes 4-6, which are more concerned with long-term flexibility and adaptability, especially for the learner.

However, given the fact that the learning and assessment is in the context of a particular sector, it should be possible to identify in general terms the potential cost to an employer if employees are not flexible and adaptable in the future. Similarly, the learner will have a reasonable sense of how the acquisition of these skills will enhance current employability and

future promotability and thus the scale of the potential economic return.

Where Providers are associated with employment sectors that are seeking to install quality management systems it is unlikely they will experience a great deal of difficulty  in doing likewise. The ETQA will want to ensure compatibility  with the requirements of the NFQ system.

Increasingly, Providers in this sector may be part of, or associated with, organisations that have or are seeking to establish a quality culture and quality management system. As long as these are based on a sound understanding of the purpose for establishing a quality culture and for managing quality, and the organisations are fully conscious of the expectations of ETQAs, it is likely that such Providers will find little difficulty in putting in place relevant systems. It may be a case of the ETQA negotiating to ensure that its needs are met uniformly across the sector (to help it in its role and especially to meet the needs of SAQA and the NSB/SGB), rather than having to provide direction and guidance on good practice.

Where Providers are not associated with a sector that has embraced a quality management system, they are likely to see value in developing and implementing such a system as a role model for the sector (and to build up their ability to provide other services for the sector). SETAs in particular will be able to make use of this motivation. Given the relatively smaller size of Providers and the fact that the focus is narrower than in the education and training sub-system, many aspects of quality management will be easier. For example, designing and operating an effective internal quality management system, developing an internal quality culture, collecting feedback from all learners, and providing effective, constructive and timely feedback to learning

and assessment facilitators should all be easier than in the education and training sub-system.

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It is likely that much of the learning and assessment will take place in the workplace in this sector. ETQA quality assurance systems will need to take this into account.

Reflecting on the nature of the learning outcomes associated with purposes 6-10, it is likely that much of the learning and evidence of effective learning will happen in the workplace. Supervisors and line managers can and should play a role in coaching and assessing performance. Indeed if they can’t, how can they be effective supervisors? In some ways, learning and assessment in the workplace are easier to achieve for these purposes than they would be in education settings. As long as there are clear standards for the products or services generated in the workplace, a learner can see the direct outcome of inadequate performance. (This is a critical contributor to reflective learning, which is the most efficient learning). A coach/assessor has a clear and easily recognized outcome against which to judge performance. It is often easier and less expensive to train workplace supervisors as assessors, and there can be spin-off benefits for the employer, not least through the improved performance of the supervisor.

However, workplace supervisors normally have a wide range of other duties that contribute to business success. Putting the initial responsibility for the collection and assessment of evidence on the shoulders of the learner can reduce the demands on the supervisor. Techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning are used. The supervisor verifies the authenticity and currency of the evidence and external assessors review the evidence for validity and sufficiency. This approach has an added advantage, as the learner is not required to fit in with some external

timetable, or attend some external assessment point.

Not  all ETQAs will  benefit  from  economies  of  scale.  Some  will  have primarily  small  Providers dispersed across the nation. Quality assurance systems will have to take this into account.

On the other hand, there are less likely to be economies of scale. Geography and the relatively small numbers of learners often means that it will not be cost-effective to pay monitoring and auditing visits to each Provider, each year. Auditing and monitoring is likely to place more emphasis on the submission of evaluations by all learners as well as on the reports issued by the Providers. A cyclical programme of visits to Providers is likely to be supplemented by visits to those where the reports submitted, or the evidence and evaluations submitted by learners, cause concern.

It will be desirable to assess underpinning knowledge and understanding especially where:

  • There is a larger knowledge base that underpins performance.
  • The outcomes of effective (or ineffective) performance are not easily attributable to the learner.
  • Solutions to problems have to be found where not all information is available.
  • The best solution today may not be the best solution tomorrow.

Ideally this would entail the use of problem-solving assignments and projects. An examinations body might undertake the setting and assessment of such assignments, if it has the necessary expertise. On the other hand, a sector may look to an education and training sub-

40                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

system Provider to help meet this learning and assessment need, albeit perhaps at a distance. When an education and training sub-system Provider is used, an economic sector ETQA might co-operate with an education and training sub-system ETQA.

Providers  and  ETQAs  in  this  sector  may  form  partnerships   with  or  delegate  to,  colleague organisations in the education and training sub-system responsibilities relating to broader-based learning outcomes

Similarly, an economic sector Provider might look to an education and training sub-system Provider to meet the learning and assessment needs associated with purposes 2 and 3. The provision of basic skills development, for example, is often only economically feasible in larger businesses or in a location where a number of smaller businesses are willing and able to work together. To quality assure learning and assessment for these purposes, an economic sector ETQA might encourage economic Providers to form alliances with local Education and training sub-system Providers.

Alternatively an economic sector ETQA might form a partnership with, and in essence sub- contract the quality assurance to, an education and training sub-system ETQA. The effectiveness of such an arrangement would depend largely on the ability of the education and training sub- system ETQA body to concentrate on the desired outcomes, to value the diversity in context and not to prejudge the inputs and processes. If this proves to be too difficult, there may be potential for the economic sector ETQAs (especially the SETAs) to form a partnership with each other for

the purpose of quality assuring these broader learning outcomes.

ETQAs in this sector may reflect quality management systems in their industry or, in their absence, provide role models.

C: Economic sector ETQAs: Professional bodies

The following are in addition to the considerations identified above for SETAs.

ETQAs in this sector have wider, legislated responsibilities associated with protecting the public that will influence practice.

Professional bodies have wider responsibilities than just those pertaining to being an ETQA. Frequently these are delineated in Acts or Regulations. Normally, such bodies exist because the members of the public are not easily or immediately able to judge the quality of service provided by practitioners. For this reason, practitioners are required to demonstrate their competence before being able to practice. Given the specialised nature of these occupations, often it is only senior practitioners who are able to evaluate occupational competence and or issue a license to practice.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

In some ways, the existence of such bodies goes against the goals of the NQF. Specifically, they inhibit access to employment in particular occupations if their requirements have not been met. On the other hand, protection of the public is a higher good and so their role and responsibilities are warranted. But, there is often a suspicion that these responsibilities are used to control access and competition within the profession rather than for the protection of the public. Further, around the world, Professional bodies are being challenged to more effectively assure the continuing competence of practitioners.

Frequently the learning necessary to become competent,  and the evidence of it, entails multiple

Providers. It may also entail significant emphasis on self-directed  learning and assessment.

Frequently,  the  learning  required  to  become  an  effective  practitioner  in  a profession  is acquired through a variety of Providers. The nature of professional activities requires that individuals  have a sound  foundation  of knowledge  and well-developed  critical  thinking skills. This is necessary so that they can practice effectively under conditions where there is often uncertainty and ambiguity, where the problems frequently have unique characteristics and the best solution requires the careful balancing of alternatives each of which may have risks associated with it.

Most professional bodies depend on academic achievement to demonstrate these qualities. However, as the value of learning in other settings has increasingly been recognised and valued, professional bodies have begun to recognise ways in which this knowledge and these skills can be acquired and demonstrated outside of higher education. While the knowledge and skills developed in academia may be valuable in the practice of a profession, many professional bodies have concluded that, often, what is learned is insufficient for professional practice. Indeed, some of those who excel in academia lack fundamental skills such as the ability to communicate, empathize with and advise clients. Further, often the knowledge base developed in academia reflects a desire to push back the boundaries of understanding rather than instill that, which has to be used on a day-to-day basis in the practice of the profession. Increasingly, professional bodies are requiring potential applicants to have practicums or placements in order to develop these skills. There may be a requirement that this additional

knowledge and these additional skills be assessed during the practicum/ placement.

However, professional bodies often assess ownership of the practical knowledge base and intellectual skills through standardised assessments. Where there are critical technical and client interaction skills, these may be assessed through standardised skill application simulations.

Increasingly, however, professional bodies are concluding that the combination of evidence from these different sources is still inadequate. Many professional bodies have established, or are establishing an introductory grade of membership (for example, licentiateship) through which individuals can practice only under the supervision of a senior practitioner. Passage to full membership depends on the judgement of the senior practitioner. Steps are being taken to make assessment, and the auditing of assessment, by senior practitioners more valid and reliable.

The development and assessment of licentiates is in some way being aided by the growing concern  regarding  the  continuing  competence  of  practitioners.  There  is  a  trend  towards

Professional Bodies requiring practitioners to demonstrate continuing competence annually or

42                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

at a frequency of between 2 to 5 years. Assuming a working life in a profession of about 30 years, in any year the number of people having to demonstrate continuing competence is between six and thirty times the number of new entrants. This is leading to the development of more effective strategies for assessing competence and effective performance in the work place and an increased emphasis on the individual’s responsibility for her or his own learning. These trends can only help enhance the effectiveness of initial assessment for new practitioners.

The development  of enhanced systems for assuring the continued  competence  of practitioners  is also enhancing the quality culture within professions.

However, the growing emphasis on assuring continued competence is unlikely to diminish the need for the professional body to assure the knowledge and skills base of the new entrant. A practitioner can cause much harm even when working under supervision. As ETQAs, the professional body, then, may need to assure the quality of learning and assessment in education, by the use of examination bodies that may be in-house or agents of the professional body, in the workplace and by the individual learner.

Providers vary from large educational institutions, through specialised testing bodies, through those who facilitate learning and assessment at a distance, to very small organisations and individual learners dispersed across the nation. As in the past, the most effective way of assuring quality in the education component is by ensuring that the standards meet the need, and to depend on the quality management systems that are put in place across education. A challenge is that the education programme may have a variety of purposes not limited to the preparation  of  professional  practitioners.  Progress  in  education  and  the  development  of research workers and content specialists are just three alternatives purposes. As a key stakeholder, membership of the relevant NSB/SGB would seem to be essential to ensure the relevance of the standards.

With  regard  to  the  assessment  of  practitioner  knowledge  and  skills,  the  technical soundness of examinations and tests are pertinent.

As to assessment in the work context, the emergence of the need to continually assure competence will provide new opportunities to better assure quality. It has been observed that one of the characteristics of a professional is that she or he continually monitors her or his performance and developments in knowledge, technology, systems and processes, identifies her or his learning needs and ensures that they are met. In defining the competence of practitioners, some bodies suggest that the ability to assess and coach colleagues is also a

requirement. Clearly, this would also facilitate learning and assessment in the work context.

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

As an ETQA, these bodies have to consider that the practitioner  is often the facilitator  of learning and assessment. Quality management systems in this case tend to utilise self-assessment,  based on the techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning.

The practitioner is challenged to provide local verification wherever possible. Further verification and the collection of supplementary evidence are carried out through the oral testing of the practitioner (often over the phone). During each period, a specific proportion of practitioners is audited in rotation, plus those practitioners for whom there are doubts about the authenticity, currency or sufficiency of the evidence submitted.

ETQAs in this group are charged by legislation to define competence and what constitutes  a quality service. They are required to ensure a quality culture within the profession.

Summary

ETQAs in the two sectors, education and training sub-system and economic sector have to deal with Providers of different size and culture who have different, wider, purposes. While the fundamentals of a quality management system for ETQAs are relevant to each, the emphasis within the systems operated by the different sectors and the mechanisms adopted will vary. The outcomes, however, should be the same; the development of a quality culture that benefits

learners and society as described by the objectives of the NQF.

Table  5: Some Differences between ETQAs from the two  identified Sectors that  will  influence their Quality

Management Systems

Economic Sector

Education and Training Sub- System Sector ETQAs will frequently:

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) & Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs will frequently:

Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs additionally will frequently:

Often Providers are significantly larger and have many more learners for qualifications than will be the case for ETQAs in the economic sector.

Tend to work with smaller providers and smaller numbers of learners than will be the case for education and training sub- system ETQAs. But some may have relatively large providers.

Work with multiple Providers and look for significant emphasis on self-directed learning and assessment.

In the main, assure learning and qualifications associated with broader-based outcomes

Assure learning and qualifications associated with an industrial or commercial sector and work performance

Assure learning and qualifications and standards associated with a single or closely related occupation(s).

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Variations in the contexts in which the ETQAs Serving different sectors will operate that may impact  on their  QMS

Table 5 continued

Economic Sector

Education and Training Sub- System Sector ETQAs will frequently:

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) & Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs will frequently:

Professional, Regulating and Licensing ETQAs additionally will frequently:

Need to delegate responsibilities to Providers to be cost effective. Providers, in turn, may delegate responsibilities within the organisation. Responsibilities may also be delegated to examinations bodies for the testing of basic knowledge and skills where required, or for quality assuring Providers’ assessments of basic skills and knowledge. But Provider and ETQA remain accountable

Where Providers are associated with employment sectors that are seeking to establish quality management systems, will be unlikely to experience a great deal of difficulty in doing likewise. However, the ETQA will want to ensure compatibility with the requirements of the NFQ system.

Not likely to benefit from economies of scale. Some will have primarily small Providers dispersed across the nation. Quality assurance systems will have to take this into account.

Have to take into account that, the practitioner is often the facilitator of learning and assessment. Quality management systems in this case will tend to utilise self- assessment based on the techniques associated with the recognition of prior learning.

Need to phase in initial accreditation requirements regarding learning and assessment facilitator competence over an extended period of time.

Need to take into account

that much of the learning and assessment will take place in the workplace in this sector.

Have wider, legislated responsibilities, associated with protecting the public that will influence practice.

Be relatively large, have specialist expertise in learning and assessment as well as quality assurance and a formal internal quality management system led by a designated quality manager.

Be relatively small, have sector specialist as well as quality assurance expertise, and an internal quality management system that reflects easier internal communication.

Form partnerships with or delegate to, colleague organisations in the education and training sub-system, quality assurance relating to broader- based learning outcomes.

Find it easier to estimate the added-vale of quality management systems and therefore assure and demonstrate their cost- effectiveness.

Benefit from, and need to take into account that enhanced systems for assuring the continued competence of practitioners will also enhance the quality culture within professions.

Model quality management systems for their Providers.

Where QMS is already embedded in sector, reflect quality management systems in their industry. Others will provide a lead

Be charged by legislation to define competence and what constitutes a quality service. They are required to ensure a quality culture within the profession.

Quality Management Systems for ETQAs                                                                                                         45

DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Appendix 1

The Purposes for Learning

The most important characteristics of quality are usually:

  • relevance (of what is learned to the purpose of learning);
  • the learning process (the process enabling the individual to learn);
  • accessibility (having in mind the learner’s circumstances); and
  • currency (having regard for the purpose for learning).

For qualifications and standards, in addition to relevance and accessibility, reliability and currency are the important characteristics of quality.

Relevance, or the purpose for learning, pertains to client needs and expectations. A product or service that does not meet these needs or expectations is not relevant; it is of inferior quality. So assuring relevance is an important step in assuring quality. In the context of education and training, there are two important questions that have to be addressed regarding clients’ needs and expectations:

  • Why is the learner willing to invest time (and possibly money) in a particular education or training activity?
  • Why is the sponsor(s) willing to make the investment in the learners’ learning?

The answers to these questions define or inform the definition of ‘relevance’. There are many reasons for learning. Table 6 lists the primary ones.

Table  6: Primary Reasons  for  Learning

1      Seek and find fulfillment in life.

2      Contribute  to  the stability  and growth  of society  and the well being  of all members  of a community.

3      Progress in the field of education.

4      Respond effectively to future situations and expectations.

5      Meet his/her own economic needs and to contribute  to the economic survival and growth of a community  throughout  her/his working life.

6      Gain employment in specific sectors of employment.

7      Gain employment in specific jobs/occupations.

8      To be recognized as competent  in an occupation  or job.

9      Improve performance in specific work roles or tasks.

10    Learn new skills and knowledge applicable to specific work roles or tasks.

In the context of the NQF, the NSB regulations state that the SGB defines the learning outcomes, but the learner should be able to select the packages of learning outcomes that serve her or his purpose for learning, perhaps with the advice of the Providers.

46                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Definition of terms

Assessment       means the process of collecting evidence of learners’ work to measure and make judgements about the achievement or non-achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications

Assessor            means the person who is registered by the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance Body in accordance with the criteria established for this purpose by a Standard Generating Body to measure the achievement of specified National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications, and “constituent assessor” has a corresponding meaning

Audit                   means the process undertaken to measure the quality of products or services that have already been made or delivered

Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies means a body in terms of section

5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act, responsible  for monitoring  and auditing achievements  in terms  of national  standards  or qualifications,  and to which  specific  functions  relating  to  the  monitoring  and  auditing  of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5(1)(b)(i) of the SAQA Act

External customer/s means an external person, body or structure that is a beneficiary to the services or product of a particular organisation

Facilitator of learning and assessment means an individual who facilitates learning processes and activities and manages and administers assessment, educator, teacher, trainer, mentor etc

Internal customer/s  means an internal person, body or structure that is a beneficiary of the services and/or products of a particular organisation

Moderator           means a person, body or organisation that ensures that the assessment of the outcomes described in National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications is fair, valid and reliable

Moderation         means the process which ensures that assessment of the outcomes described in the National Qualifications Framework standards and/or qualifications is fair, valid and reliable and “Verification” has a corresponding meaning

Moderating Body  means a body specifically appointed by the Authority for the purpose of moderation, across ETQAs

National Standard Body   means a body registered in terms of section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the registration of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section 5(1)(b)(I) of the SAQA Act

Professional Body  means a statutory body registered as such in terms of the legislation applicable to such bodies, or voluntary body performing the functions contemplated in the legislation for such bodies but not registered as such

Provider              means a body which delivers learning programmes  which culminate in specified   National   Qualifications   Framework   standards   and   /   or

qualifications, and manages the assessment thereof

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DIRECTORATE: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Service Contract  means contractual working agreement, between an ETQA and its customers and/or agencies

Standard Generating Body    means a body registered in terms of section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the SAQA Act, responsible for establishing education and training standards or qualifications, and to which specific functions relating to the establishing of national standards and/or qualifications have been assigned in terms of section

5(1)(b)(i) of SAQA the Act

Bibliography

  1. Huba M.E. & Freed J.E. (2000), Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses. Needham

Heights, MA, Allyn and Bacon

  1. Swanson D.B, Norman G.R. & Linn R.L. (1995), Performance-based Assessment: Lesson from the

Health and Professions, Educational Researcher, 24 (5), 5-11

  1. Simosko S. & Cook C. (1996), Applying APL principles in Flexible Assessment, (pages 99-103) London, Kogan Page
  1. Schimberg B. (1980), Occupational Licensing: A Public Perspective, Princeton USA, Center for

Occupational and Professional Assessment, Educational Testing Services

  1. Kantner R. (1994), The ISO 9000 Answer Book, (page 11), Essex Junction, VT, Oliver Wright

Publications

  1. Foster A. (1990), Explaining Quality Systems, London, Training Tomorrow (page 38), MBC University

Press Ltd

  1. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award c/o American Society for Quality, P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
  1. Waller J, Allen D. & Burns A. (1993), The Quality Management Manual, How to Write and Develop a

Successful Manual for Quality Management Systems” (page 141), London, UK, Kogan Page Ltd

  1. Walkin L. (1992), Putting Quality into Practice, Cheltenham, England, Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd

48                                                                                                        Quality Management Systems for ETQAs

Funded by the European Union under the European

Programme for Reconstruction and Development

South African Qualifications Authority

Postnet Suite 248, Private Bag X06, Waterkloof, Pretoria, 0145

Tel: 012-482 0800  Fax: 012-346 5812/3

Certification of learners by accredited Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies

Certification of learners by accredited Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies

Download a copy of this policy from SAQA here:
http://saqa.org.za/show.php?id=5413

A number of ETQAs have indicated that they are ready to issue learners with certificates and have requested guidance from SAQA in this regard.

SAQA would like to issue the following recommendations with regard to the matter:

  • The SAQA logo can be included on the certificate/s.
  • The certificate/s must include an acknowledgement that the qualification is registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The NLRD registration number of the standard/s or qualification should appear on the certificate, where appropriate. The full name of the standard/s or qualification, as registered on the NLRD, must appear on the certificate.
  • The format/s of the certificate/s that ETQAs wish to use themselves or that which they wish to delegate for use by providers, must be submitted to the SAQA office for approval. The reproduction of the SAQA logo will receive specific consideration.
  • The ETQA will carry the cost for the printing of the certificates.

In terms of accreditation of an ETQA, it is necessary for the ETQA to have:

  1. Strategies to prevent the issue of fraudulent certificates.
  2. A database acceptable to SAQA in which individual learner records are kept.

Conditions for the use of the SAQA logo

  • The Education and Training Quality Assurance Body must be fully accredited
  • The qualification indicated on the certificate must be a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The ETQA that has been granted permission to use the logo for certificate purposes will not provide the SAQA logo to any other party for any other purpose without the written permission of SAQA.

 

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