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Why clients (should) care about assessment

What is assessment and why does it matter to clients?

EVER FELT AN EVENT wasn’t worth your time or money? I’m sure we’ve all attended a workshop or conference that didn’t meet our expectations.

When clients pay for workshops or programmes — even informal ones — they should be seeking evidence that they are well-designed, provide high-quality experience for all participants, and enable achievement to be reliably evaluated.  What will attendees get out of the session?  Does it ‘do what it says on the tin’?

At Contented, we believe that a quality event should ensure that, from sign-up to completion, all delegates are provided with the support that they need to succeed in and benefit from learning. To achieve that, we need to make sure that we have sufficient appropriately-qualified and skilled staff to deliver a high-quality learning experience. Where a workshop provider works in partnership with other organisations — for example, where Contented issues a certificate recognised by a university, ILM or a chartered institution — we need to ensure that the standards of our awards are credible irrespective of where or how courses are delivered or who in our team delivers them.

Assessment is a fundamental aspect of the client experience. Participants learn from assessment activities, interact with staff and peers, and gain feedback on their progress and performance.  Assessment enables them to reflect and continually build on their learning.  For example, if I’ve not yet grasped a concept, or achieved the standard required, I’d like to understand the gap so that I can go away and fill it.

Get more from your events with Contented's programme Creative Leadership for Innovation, endorsed by ILM, the leadership and management brand of City & Guilds, granted a royal charter by Queen Victoria. The Institute of Leadership and Management offers a free membership to all registered learners.
Doing what we say on the tin?

Assessment is a little like marking, or ongoing evaluation. It should be designed to enable people to learn through preparing for and undertaking an exercise and from feedback on their performance in that activity. It’s considered good practice to engage them both individually and collectively in the development, assurance and enhancement of the quality of their experience.  This can be done before, during and after a programme.

Our own Assessment Policy, recognised by ILM last year, sets out the guiding principles which underpin how we evaluate learning of our participants, staff and Contented itself. Even as we put it into practice, we reflect on how well it is working for us and for the learners — and consider how we can improve it. Our family of coaches and facilitators meets regularly to continually review how we assess our programmes and the progress of our client staff. We share student work and debate the suitability of learning objectives and assessment criteria — discussing for example when it should be enough for participants to recite a checklist or when a client needs them to understand the reasons behind these, or how to apply that knowledge. We also invite into these conversations external organisations to check our systems and to ensure consistency against comparable training programmes offered by other companies.

We have a lot of experience in our team — a few of of us lecture at universities and several have designed, managed and delivered learning programmes in a range of business environments, as well as for younger learners. What’s rather odd is that in higher education, in many countries there’s not actually a requirement for a post-graduate teaching qualification.  However, outside higher education, that is considered somewhat arrogant and awarding bodies (like ILM/City & Guilds) have prescribed expectations.

Here’s a great introduction to assessment published (Nov 2018) by the the QAA, the organisation responsible for quality of UK Higher Education. Assessment is normalised across the EU countries and UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance offers practical advice and useful resources. We are proud of the international recognition of our efforts to become a learning organisation. If you’d like to

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