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Measure outcomes from informal learning

By Gilbert Arnold,2014-08-09 11:22
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Measure outcomes from informal learning

    Measure outcomes from

    informal learning

    A practical guide

     to support your organisation

    with the measurement of outcomes from

    informal learning

    This toolkit has been produced by the Learning in the Voluntary Sector Project within PAVS

September 2008

    For further support or extra copies please contact PAVS on the details below:

PAVS

    36-38 High Street

    Haverfordwest

    Pembrokeshire

    SA61 2DA

01437 769722

    training@pavs.org.uk

    www.pavs.org.uk

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Contents

    Introduction………………………………………………………………..iv

    Improving quality……………………………………………….…………..iv Improving the learning experience…………………………….…………iv

    The RARPA process …………………………………………………… vi

    Step 1 Aims………………………………………………………………..vi Step 2 Initial Assessment ………………………………………………..vii Step3 Setting Objectives and learning outcomes………………………ix Step 4 Formative assessment……………………………………………ix Step 5 Summative Assessment and Evaluation…………………………x

    References and useful resources ………………………….…………xi

The Toolbox .. 1-34

    Templates for initial assessment……………………………………….. 1-9 Ideas for initial assessment activities………………………………….....10 Templates for combined records of assessment and achievement ………………………………….…11-18

    Evaluation questionnaires ……………………………………………..16-17

    Combined assessments and evaluation…………………………….……18

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Introduction………………………………………………….Section 1

    The majority of learning opportunities offered within the voluntary sector are classed as informal learning this is defined as any learning which occurs

    without formal recognition

    The major advantage of informal non-accredited learning is its flexibility. Because it does not have to meet accrediting body’s defined standard in terms of

    knowledge, skills or application it can be tailored to meet the needs of your learners and your organisation and does not require learners to be assessed

    However there are now growing pressures to recognise and assess informal learning. There are several reasons for this

    1. Improving Quality

    Recognition of achievement in informal learning provides a basis for qualitative and quantitative monitoring system that organizations can use to monitor and improve their provision and also to identify the impact of training and learning programmes on individuals as well as the organization as a whole. This in turn provides evidence for funders, who, quite rightly, want to see hard evidence of the impact of the work. This is easy if you have facts and figures, such as 80 per cent of young people achieving a qualification. But how do you show your organisation is worth funding if your work isn’t easy to measure? For example many volunteers will show significant improvement in soft skills such as self confidence, motivation and social skills. To overcome this problem, an increasing number of voluntary and community organisations are now trying to measure these so-called soft outcomes to illustrate the importance of their work. These can range from improved self-esteem to changes in attitudes and behaviour.

    2. Improving the Learner Experience

    Learners benefit from the measurement and assessment of informal learning through better motivation, faster progress and better engagement in learning. This process can be particularly useful to learners with previously negative experiences of learning. Recognising learner’s achievements and encouraging

    them to reflect on and recognise their own progress and achievement improves confidence and the motivation to carry on learning. This in turns helps learners to overcome barriers and develop positive attitudes to learning. However, to be successful the assessment of informal learning has to be integral to the learning process and considered throughout the planning and the delivery of the learning and not as a bolt on extra.

     iv

    The purpose of this guide is to support voluntary organisations that provide informal learning and development opportunities for staff, volunteers or clients to measure and assess the achievement of learners and to develop and share good practice.

    The toolkit contains a range of information and resources that can be adapted and tailored to meet the needs of a range of voluntary sector organisations and their learners.

    Further information on supporting informal learning can also be found in the PAVS How to develop a Volunteer Mentor Scheme Toolkit.( PAVS 2008)

     v

Recognising and Recording Progress…………………….Section 2

    and Achievement (RARPA)

    RARPA (Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement) is a learner centred system for recognising and measuring the outcomes of informal learning developed in 2003-04 by the National Learning and Skills Council, NIACE and Learning and Skills Development Agency ( NIACE ( LSC 2005)The process consolidates good teaching and learning practice and is being increasingly adopted as the standard process to be followed for non-accredited learning programmes.

The system has two elements:

    1. the ‘Staged Process’ for recognising and recording progress and

    achievement in non-accredited learning

    2. quality assurance processes for assessing the Staged Process and

    RARPA principles that are appropriate, fit for purpose and create no

    additional bureaucracy forming part of the normal self-assessment

    undertaken by providers

The staged process has been designed to:

    ; Focus on and promote the needs and interests of learners;

    ; Take account of learners’ diverse and sometimes multiple purposes in

    learning;

    ; Allow for negotiation of the content and outcomes of learning programmes

    ; Encourage learners to reflect on and recognise their own progress and

    achievement, thus increasing their confidence;

    ; Promote and support informed learner self-assessment, peer assessment

    and dialogue about learning and achievement between learners and

    tutors/trainers;

    ; Enable both the achievement of planned learning objectives and learning

    outcomes not specified at the outset to be recognised and valued;

    ; Promote good practice in teaching, learning and assessment

    ; Enhance providers’ quality assurance and improvement practices.

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The Elements of the Staged Process

1 Aim(s) appropriate to an individual learner or groups of learners

2 Initial assessment to establish the learner’s starting point

3 Identification of appropriately challenging learning objectives

4 Recognition and recording of progress and achievement during programme

    (formative assessment)

5 End of programme learner self-assessment; tutor summative assessment;

    review of overall progress and achievement.

STAGE 1

Aims

     Make sure that the aims of all activities are clearly stated and explained from the start to ensure that everybody is aware of the main purpose of the activity and there own role(s) within it.

For example:-

    To provide volunteers with the skills knowledge and confidence to carry

    out their roles effectively

    To help adults with learning disabilities find paid employment.

STAGE 2

Initial assessment

    All participants need to go through some form of initial assessment before or at the start of the learning activity. The purpose of this is to find out what people already know and how confident they feel about the planned training/ learning activity. There are several reasons for this

    1. To identify what participants need to learn and what support they need in

    order to achieve their goals

     vii

    2. To identify how the programme can be planned and adapted to suit these

    needs.

    3. To establish a bench mark or starting point against which the learner’s

    achievements or distance travelled can be assessed at the end of the

    learning opportunity.

Ideally the initial assessment should establish what the learner perceives as

    their

    ; confidence/knowledge/skill levels at the beginning of a course

    ; approximate level of previous learning

    ; previous experience

    ; reasons for learning

    ; existing skills

    ; health and fitness issues where appropriate

    ; preferred learning style/activities

    Although best practice recommends learners complete the initial assessment before starting a learning programme this is often not possible in practice. So, it needs to be done as early as possible during the learning programme. This can be particularly difficult and problematic where learners are engaged only in short half and one day programmes. Obviously, the process used and the level of detail in recording the outcomes will vary according to the nature and duration of the learning programme. However, it is important that this process is always handled sensitively, particularly with more fragile learners. The important thing is that the information can be used both to improve the learning experience for the learners and set the bench mark for the assessment of new learning.

    The information gathered is then used to inform the tutors assessment of learners’ needs, identify ,adapt and negotiate appropriate learning outcomes for the group and/or the individual and (where appropriate) draw up individual

    learning plans/ learning contracts.( Tools 9-12) Where group learning is involved

    the outcomes of initial assessment should also be used to help plan /adapt shemes of work and lesson plans.

The examples (here) (Tools 1-8 and 18) are designed to help you develop

    appropriate initial assessment for your learners. However there is no right or wrong way- All sorts of issues will make a difference including the: number of learners, individual or group learning, type of learning opportunity, , work based, workshops/practical/projects or classroom teaching • length of course • level of course. We have presented a selection of tools.

     In some cases the same tool can be used both to carry out the initial assessment and to record the assessment of learning outcomes. Some examples of these can be found here.

     viii

STAGE 3

Setting objectives and learning outcomes

    In order to give the learning a clear focus learning objectives/outcomes should be clearly and accurately identified with learners at the start of the learning process. If the learning opportunity offered is through a taught course then the tutor should share the course aims and objectives/outcomes with learners at the start of the course. If the learning is offered through informal individual learning activities learning objectives/outcomes form the starting point for the individual learning

    plan/learning contract .( Tools 9-12 and 18)

    It is good practice for tutors /trainers to confirm, amend and negotiate learning objectives and outcomes with the learners to identify both those suited to the group as a whole, and those suited to the needs and goals of individual learners. Not all learning objectives need apply to all learners. Some may have learning objectives of their own, and indeed should have, if these are conducive to their own learning and compatible with the overall aims of the course. It is quite possible to be responsive to differential learning needs and preferred learning styles without abandoning the central aims and objectives of the course. Any new objectives should be discussed and agreed with the learners. A written record of the revised list of objectives should then form part of the Individual Learning Plan/ Learning Contract to which the tutor and learners are able to refer.

    Learning objectives may be amended during the learning programme, for example, as a result of formative assessment. These amendments may apply to individuals or to the group as a whole.

    Outcomes must be measurable because they are used to estimate the amount of progress learners have made towards their achievement.

Stage 4

    Recognition and recording of progress and achievement during programme (formative assessment

    Formative assessment provides the chance to review the progress of the learner at different stages during their training/learning opportunity it is integral to the process of recognising, validating and recording achievement, and requires tutors/trainers to attend to the work of learners, noticing any progress (or lack of it)

     Learners should be encouraged to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what is going well or not so well. , it is particularly important that tutors/trainers/mentors encourage learners to reflect upon their learning and their progress and provides appropriate feedback in response. This can include

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    ; Clear, supportive feedback that learners can act upon

    ; Identification of strengths

    ; Identification of areas that need developing

    ; Setting of appropriate timeframes for improvement

    ; Support for learners in relation to self-assessment

    Tools 7 to 15 and 18) can all be used or adapted for formative assessment

Stage 5

    End of programme learner self-assessment; tutor summative assessment; review of overall progress and achievement. The final or summative assessment allows us to measure what progress the learner has made in relation the learning objectives and bench marks set during the initial assessment. (It can also in some circumstances include recognition of learning outcomes not specified during the programme or on the individual learning programme). It normally includes the learner’s self assessment and the

    tutor/ trainer’s assessment of progress as well as an opportunity for learners to feedback on the quality of the programme and areas for improvement. . A typical final assessment might include:

    ; Learner self-assessment including opportunities for learners to indicate

    what they have gained from the course

    ; Learner review of the effectiveness of courses, including ideas for

    improvement

    ; Clear tutor feedback about learner progress, future potential and

    progression routes

    ; Clear evidence of ‘value added’/’distance travelled’ by learners

    A range of assessment instruments and techniques to assist in this process are included in the toolkit. (Tools 6-18) Other evidence of this stage of the process could include:-

    ; records of learner self-assessment

    ; group and peer assessment

    ; tutor records of assessment activities and individual/group progress and

    achievement

    ; learners’ files, journals, diaries, portfolios, artwork; videos, audiotapes,

    performances, exhibitions and displays

    ; individual or group learner testimony

    ; artefacts, photographs and other forms of evidence

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