Digital Literacy Assessment and Feedback UNIT 315

Analyse the process and procedures that digital literacy learners use

Having observed my learners whilst they complete tasks, I have become aware of the different approaches that each individual learner takes in order to complete a task. Very often the learner does not plan what they are going to do, instead they seem to act impulsively without having a strategy as to how to address the task in hand. It seems that unless specifically told, the majority of my learners, at their current level, lack the ability to put a procedure in place to complete a task. They often need lots of support, encouragement and scaffolding. If they were to be left to their own devices, they will accomplish the task but without a plan, the task will take longer and may even become frustrating. I believe my learners need to be given step by step instructions on how to complete the task. This said, often with a clearly set out process to follow, my learners often get lost in the internet, in the tool they are using or an aspect of the task. This can mean that they run out of time on the task. When they do get there independently, this tends to result in a fair few mistakes. My learners tend to act on impulse, possibly as a result of their anxiety levels about the computer and qualification and this leads to silly mistakes. This also could be to do with the nature of my learners and their job role. A lot of my learners work in practical employment positions and are therefore highly likely to learn better kinaesthetically, i.e. by doing. This impulsivity, in my mind, is also a result of not planning the task fully. At the frustration phase, they will re-evaluate and modify what they are doing. One thing is for sure, learning from their mistakes is most definitely happening here.

The key processes a lot of my learners use are trial and error or over reliance on support due to a lack of confidence. This trial and error or guess work can be often be seen in initial, diagnostic and formative assessments such as WEST, which often results in skewed results if the guess is a correct one, this should be picked up in the learning process with the learner, via such things as not changing passwords or leaving themselves signed into accounts and WEST stating that their digital responsibility is at a high level enough to know that this is not keeping your data secure. Some areas may indeed be picked up by a form of formative assessment, on WEST Skills Check, for example, or a Kahoot It used in the learning process, or even in the sample controlled assessment. A lot of my learners are often reluctant to use the computer, especially the more mature learners. This group tends to lack confidence and will over rely on tutor support, even when they have been learning awhile but if they face something new. Some learners have or have developed enough confidence to try certain things out and make mistakes. They may then ask me or they may Google the answer, if they are a little more confident again. I would encourage this kind of independent discovery learning.

Source: WEST TOOLKIT http://www.tribalgroup.com/further-education/learning-resources/wales-essential-skills-toolkit-west/

The higher level learners take a different approach than lower level learners. Plan-ning tends to be key and at the forefront, with different learners taking on different parts of a task according to their strengths and procedures such as means of com-munication and collaboration tend to be quickly agreed upon. With this type of learner the communication tends to be very good and a plan tends to be developed fairly quickly. These learners tend to all complete the different parts of their agreed role and come back together to produce, review and evaluate a final product. They may even review throughout the task. They naturally are able to reflect on the task and evaluate each other’s work and suggest improvements. I would suggest that these learners, who are usually in less practical and more managerial type positions, have the ability to plan, process and create a procedure due to previous experience and training. They often tend to also have more experience with computers and possibly the use of digital tools within their work place. Whereas the other group may have difficulty even after discussion seeing how digital technology can be useful to them (i.e. its relevance) which can affect their motivation levels, this group can see the benefits clearly and are highly motivated

Independent learning

The teaching approach with these two different groups of learners needs to different. The initial group needs more scaffolding, confidence building/motivation instillation (using tools to be useful rather than just discussing how they could be) and support whereas the other group should be facilitated and guided, only if necessary. It should also be added here that a major problem with assessment that I am currently experiencing is that learners may often be on their own or in a pair needing to complete the qualification. This obviously causes problems with working collaboratively. A tutor needs to be highly involved in arranging collaborative working with learners of other tutors, for example, especially with the group needing more support. It is unlikely that the learner will teach any peers not completing the qualification the skills needed in order to collaborate as a favour, due to a lack of confidence and motivation. It is also likely that this peer will ‘drop out’ often because there is nothing in it for them or they are not available to collaborate at the right time. These learners often see the organisation of this as my ‘job’. Higher level learners, in similar situations, are more likely to organise this for themselves, independently. To remedy the collaboration process difficulties, my organisation is in the process of organising workshops to ensure that groups of learners are together and can practise working collaboratively and complete the controlled task assessment collaboratively.

Comparing the approaches made by two very different groups of people has been valuable to see the different approaches being made and this has allowed me to formulate in my mind the different approaches that I will need to take when teaching learners at different levels.

Feedback outcome of assessment to digital literacy learners

There are many different ways to give feedback to a learner on the results of their assessment, such as verbally on a one to one basis if appropriate, in writing, ensuring a constructive criticism is sandwiched between two positives etc. All of these forms of feedback can also be completed digitally and whilst it would be nice for the learner and tutor to be face to face, this does not necessarily need to happen, for example with the use of Skype, Google hangouts and Face Time, feedback can be given remotely. I would argue here that unless this tool or a webinar tool is used to observe the work completed, that the immediacy of the feedback may be an issue. Indeed, it may be the case that the learner cannot obtain feedback immediately because they may have to return to work or the tutor is called away. In this case, digital feedback in this way may be more appropriate. It can also be done in a written manner, perhaps over What’s App, text or email. This, I feel, lacks the personal touch of a face to face conversation, as the problem with written feedback is often that the meaning of what is written can be misinterpreted. I would suggest that both are used as forms of feedback, as the learner can re-read the written feedback at any time and they can also keep a copy of it, which may assist them in further assessment and learning if it is formative assessment feedback they have received. A conversation is more easily forgotten but body language can be read from it, reassuring the learner of its genuineness.

Review the assessment process

The assessment process undertaken by my organisation Educ8 starts with the CAM (Client Account Managers) completing recruitment and sign-ups for QCF qualifications (usually the employer will contact them to start the process). There are many people who have a stakehold in this part of the process along with most of the other parts of the assessment process, namely the learner, the employer, the CAMs and the directors of Educ8. The relevant paperwork is completed here. At this stage, the learner’s suitability for the programme has not yet been assessed, neither has their digital literacy knowledge. A gauge as to the level of literacy and digital literacy (as both effect one another) will be undertaken via a screener. This screener is a brief assessment via the computer programme WEST (Wales Essential Skills Toolkit) programme of their skills and will give a starting level. It will not, however, be in depth enough to display a spiky profile for the learner and highlight strengths and weaknesses.This will give a guide as to the level to start the initial/diagnostic WEST assessment later in the process. This screener will be undertaken via a computer with internet access. I believe the results of this screener should be looked at more closely and a judgement as to whether the learner will have difficulty on their QCF programme in general, if literacy or/and digital literacy are problematic, and whether the programme is suitable at that time, i.e. whether further support in these areas should be offered prior to them signing up. The learners will then see their QCF assessor who assesses suitability for the QCF but not because of their Essential Skills screener results but instead gauging their motivation, level of commitment and suitability for it with regards to their job role. This is done via paperwork assessment.

If the assessor is happy to go ahead then they book them onto a WEST initial assessment and diagnostic workshop, where all three assessments are completed, namely Communication, Digital Literacy and Application of Number in one session. These are completed by Essential Skills tutors. This is not an ideal scenario on two counts: one, the assessor should be also making a judgement as to the level of their literacy and digital literacy as both can affect their completion of the QCF as well as their Essential Skills and secondly, the completion of three lengthy in depth assessments in one session could be viewed as unfair on learners. The latter is hampered somewhat by the Welsh Government requirement that all three assessments should be undertaken within 28 days of sign up. The consequences of not doing this are that the learner will be taken off the programme and this will affect their learning in that they will be delayed or unable to undertake it. It could also affect Educ8’s reputation, not just with the company involved but also other companies that may be linked, therefore this can affect further business and therefore the directors of Educ8. Learners tend to be, where possible, booked on to these workshops shortly after sign up to avoid this. However, sometimes it may be the case that the learner has to work and may need to cancel as the whole day of assessments is often a large commitment on their part as well as their employers'. They can therefore be booked on again easily in this time. The Welsh Government requirement makes it difficult for us to arrange two or three half days to complete them, which would be fairer to the learner due to the risk of them not being fully completed.At this stage, learners are often unaware of the existence of the essential skills qualifications that are attached to their QCF. They often assume that the assessments are complete and so are their essential skills qualifications, despite them being told to the contrary. This is being addressed by Educ8 currently, as it is felt that the essential skills qualifications are not sold within the package properly at the recruitment stage.

Often, especially in the case of Digital Literacy, in my experience that WEST results do not always affect the learner’s ability. The learners tend to guess answers and often appear a higher level than they actually are. Tutor’s usually find this out whilst working with them on their learning. From the WEST assessment a learning plan is created. The learners will be told at this point to continue working on their learning plan and how they may do this. These workshops used to be run by a coordinator, however, they are now being run by Essential Skills tutors who will ensure that the learner leaves knowing what their learning plan is, how to access it and work on it, prior to the essential skills tutor meeting them. In my mind, although the coordinator was telling them to work on the skills on the learning plan she was not discussing the'how' with them in any depth due to a lack of knowledge of the workings of the tool beyond assessment and possibly a high number of learners undertaking the assessment in one session, meaning she could not spare the time to do this. The sheer number of learners undertaking the assessments in one session does not help the learners perform to the best of their ability due to frequent disruptions, not knowing others in the room can make them feel intimidated in itself and this does not help them if they require support with the computer or due to an undisclosed learning need, as they often feel too embarrassed to mention these difficulties. Another problem is the immediacy of feedback following these assessments from a qualified essential skills tutor. This is due to sheer work volumes and high caseloads, resulting in later allocations. In my mind, assessors should know more about WEST and the learner’s learning plan and should be encouraging the learners to develop this themselves prior to the time they are contacted by the Essential Skills team, especially as they are seen regularly by them. This is currently not happening but I believe it should be done at every assessor meeting. Feedback on work completed and targets should be set in this regard in the interim. Assessors should also be able to resolving any issues, for example with logging on, that a learner may have. Essential Skills tutors will contact the learner once they are allocated. They will assist with the formative assessment via Check your Skills or other method, e.g. quizzes and /or sample controlled tasks. They will give the correct level of support for each learner according to the learning needs, whilst encouraging independent learning at all levels. This information will have been given by the learner in a one to one discussion before learning progresses as well as their learning plan. After each meeting with the learner, reviews are completed to document learner progress and forward plan new SMART targets. Once the learner is deemed ready for assessment, a summative assessment in the form of a controlled task and structured discussion will be completed as part of the Digital Literacy Essential Skill. If this is passed then the learner will have completed their relevant Digital Literacy qualification at their correct level.

Review how the assessment process measures digital literacy learner progress

As with any assessment process, a learner’s progress can be measured during the learning via many forms of formative assessment, such as quizzes, responses to question and answer, produce work evidence and sample controlled task/structured discussions. A learner’s response to quizzes and question and answer sessions, as well as any errors made in their work or in a sample controlled task, if left unaided, can be interpreted. An example of this could be in a quiz if they answer a question wrongly on incorrect posting on social media, you would perhaps need to review their knowledge and learning in the digital responsibility strand, even if their WEST scores suggested that they scored highly in this area. The things that they do wrongly within certain tasks can also be assessed, for example, copying a link to their online presentation rather than using a sharing link. This demonstrates a lack of awareness of how to share correctly as well as possibly a digital responsibility issue in that they may be unaware that their presentation is private and needs to be shared and/or made public in order for others to view it. When completing formative assessment on WEST, it is important to note the time the learner has taken on learning and on the assessment. For example, if the learning has not taken them long, have they skipped a lot of it and simply relied on guessing the answers to pass the Check your Skills for that strand? Alternatively, if they have spent a long time on it and also the assessment, this may also suggest a few things, perhaps they need clarification on the topic and further support from a tutor or they may have undiagnosed or disclosed learning needs such as dyslexia and had trouble reading and understanding the learning and questions. In the case of the latter, appropriate support and tools should be put in place, such as Claro Read for Chrome for text to speech for internet material or/and high contrast different colour settings are available on WEST to assist the learner when reading the learning and Skills Check questions. It could also be the case that the learner is not enjoying learning independently in this manner. It would be fair to say here that a tutor should find alternative means to teach the learning that is needed to this learner. This could be remotely via videos and/or one to one/group tuition and support. In addition, a learner may have spent a reasonable amount of time on learning (perhaps in line with the indicative learning given for the resource) and also a reasonable amount of time to answer the number of questions given, then it is fair to say that the WEST learning tool is working for this learner and that they understand the material.

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