Developing and using Training and Assessment Strategies
A Training and Assessment Strategy (TAS) is a crucial document that outlines the RTO’s approach to deliver and assess a particular course, and therefore, helps the RTO to plan and manage training and assessment practices and resources.
The Standards for RTOs define training and assessment strategies and practices as: ” … the approach of, and method adopted by, an RTO with respect to training and assessment designed to enable learners to meet the requirements of the training package or accredited course.”
How Training and Assessment Strategies (TAS) should be implemented?
The initial role of the TAS is to provide a framework for a consistent and comprehensive process to plan and document the design of a new course. Completing a TAS for each course helps RTOs to methodically design the course considering all critical aspects including considerations to the learners’ target group needs, interpreting competency requirements, setting course duration, defining delivery and assessment methods, and analysing required resources, facilities and trainers.
Going through this initial planning exercise and completing this process in collaboration with industry and community stakeholders, give the RTO the best chances to prepare a training product that will respond to learners and industry needs. Documenting the outcomes of this process in a TAS provides further guidance for the RTO’s training and assessment practices.
The second role of a TAS is providing guidance and support during the implementation of the course. A guide that will support RTO staff throughout the whole students’ journey.
The course outcomes and identified workplace and educational pathways help course advisors to provide information to potential learners about the course and help them to align their own expectations and needs with the right course. Accurate information about course duration and delivery modes helps the marketing team to ensure that potential learners can make informed decisions and better understand their commitments with the RTO.
Entry requirements established in the TAS provide a framework for RTO enrolment staff to perform due diligences during the admission/enrolment process, to ensure that only those learners for whom the course was created are accepted into the course.
Intelligence gathered during the industry and community engagement activities provides guidelines to set the best possible learning environment, including the implementation of simulated environments or the use of work placements.
Training duration, methods, and schedules, provide a guide for RTO staff to plan, monitor, and document training practices, ensure consistency across the RTO, set quality expectations, and determine accountabilities. Similarly, assessment methods and validation arrangements will guide the implementation of assessments that will support the AQF certification outcomes.
An effective TAS provides RTO staff not only guidance, but also quality benchmarks to monitor training and assessment practices.
Why does it seem difficult, tedious, and time consuming?
Trainers, managers, CEOs often complain about the regulatory requirement to have a TAS.
Some complaints are about the level of difficulty of such a technical job, and we must start acknowledging the competencies required to plan the design of a competency-based course. RTOs must have internal capabilities to complete this job including skills to design learning programs that meet industry expectations and provide meaningful learning experiences; interpret training packages; design assessments including RPL; and use a variety of technologies. Qualified trainers must be involved in this job. Sometimes compliance managers or other non-academic staff are required to create a TAS, but they may not necessarily hold the required skills to do it.
What are some of the tools we use in the workplace to support staff to complete their job? Systems, procedures, work instructions, templates. Well, ensure relevant systems and tools are available to your RTO staff for the processes of designing, documenting, implementing, monitoring, and improving training and assessment practices.
The complaint about the tediousness of writing strategies is often referred to some degree of repetitiveness of some steps, which sometimes is misinterpreted as duplication of information. We must have a TAS for training product, and in cases the difference of two courses based on the same qualification may be only in the duration, the delivery mode, or some elective units; and an important part of the strategy may be similar. It is important for RTO’s efficiencies, that strategies are planned at different levels, and some RTOs can and should have adaptable strategies with pre-established modules and variations that staff can use to meet the needs of a specific learner cohort.
It is a time-consuming process, yes, I agree. Planning takes time, considering all aspects that affect the quality of training takes time, but you know what they say about failing to plan?
Don’t forget, this is a teamwork, the workload must be shared by trainers, managers, and other stakeholders that will participate in the development or acquisition of resources, organising training logistics, recruiting students, and monitoring compliance. At any stage of the training cycle, whether you are designing the initial TAS, or updating a TAS based on feedback and evaluation data, this is always a teamwork. To organise this teamwork, RTOs need to establish and communicate not only the workflow arrangements and timeframes, but also every stakeholder’s responsibility.
The TAS is a live document.
The instructional design cycle is dynamic, continuous improvement is part of our DNA, your strategies and practices will evolve and adapt, and so should your documented TAS. Use a suitable version control system to document and track improvements and changes.
The compliance bit.
Having a TAS per course is not optional for RTOs, it is a regulatory requirement. Standard 1, clauses 1.1 – 1.4. According to ASQA RTOs most frequent non-compliant is Standard 1. ASQA finds that: RTOs’ training and assessment strategies do not provide an accurate or sufficiently detailed framework for delivery and assessment; training and assessment strategies are not adapted to meet the needs of the various target groups; and RTOs delivery and assessment practices do not align with their training and assessment strategies.
Some of the core elements included in a Training and Assessment Strategy:
- Qualification/Training Product: The TAS starts by identifying the specific qualification, course, or skill set, including the relevant code and title from the training package or accredited course.
- Target Group: The TAS should identify the target learner cohort(s), detailing any industry-specific needs, learner backgrounds, prerequisites, and any assumed industry knowledge or experience.
- Delivery Modes: This section describes how the training will be delivered. Common methods include face-to-face learning, online learning, work-based learning, distance, or a blend of these.
- Duration and Amount of Training: The TAS outlines the expected duration of the training and details regarding the amount of training provided, which is based on the learner cohort’s existing skills and knowledge.
- Trainers and Assessors: Information about the trainers and assessors’ qualifications, experience, and competence is included to ensure they meet regulatory and training package requirements.
- Assessment Methods: The strategy describes the assessment methods and tools used to determine if a learner has achieved the required skills and knowledge. This includes the timing of assessments, types of evidence to be collected, and how assessments will be conducted, e.g., written tasks, observations, projects, etc.
- Resources: The TAS details the physical and material resources required for delivery and assessment, ensuring they meet industry standards. This could include specific equipment, facilities, or learning materials.
- Industry and Community Engagement: Details of how the RTO consulted with industry stakeholders to validate the strategy’s relevance and applicability to industry needs and expectations are essential. This ensures the training and assessment are aligned with current industry practices and technologies.
- Pathways and Outcomes: The potential pathways for learners who undertake the training, such as further educational opportunities or job outcomes, are typically outlined.