Competency based assessment in vocational education and training: Recent investigations on some current issues using different research settings and approaches

Year: 1995

Author: Peak, Grahame

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Competency-based training/assessment is central to the reform agenda for our national vocational education and training system. The present paper examines two recent studies on current issues and approaches associated with the implementation of competency-based assessment within two vocational education and training systems. The two studies chosen represent different research settings, one a military establishment and the other a public training provider; different researchers, one a military instructor and the other a civilian teacher; different participants, one a sample of training and development experts and the other two groups of apprentice trade students; and different research approaches, one a qualitative technique and the other a quantitative methodology.

The first study, undertaken within the Royal Australian Air Force, had as its aim the development of a competency-based workplace assessment model suitable for use in the aircraft maintenance environment. The Delphi Technique consisting of three rounds of questionnaires distributed by mail to aircraft and avionics training personnel was used to provide answers to research questions concerning the assessment methods, timing of assessment, amount of evidence for valid assessment, assessors, and reporting and recording competency.

The second study, conducted in TAFE NSW, had as its purpose the determination of the effect of grading competency-based tests on performance in electrical trades subjects. When both experimental and control groups were each given no grading for the first semester module assessment there was no significant difference between groups in performance. However, when grading was introduced for the experimental group in the second semester module assessment there were significantly less retests required for the experimental group than for the control group.

Both studies make recommendations, based on their findings and conclusions, which have implications for educational practice.