Assessing Behaviours in End-point assessment

Apprenticeship Standards contain knowledge, skills, and behaviours (KSBs) which are assessed though a range of end-point assessment tools, as defined by the published assessment plan.

Some standards list 3 to 4 overarching behaviours, others list up to 30 behaviours. Some assessment plans detail which assessment method is used for each behaviour, others simply state the EPA tools, and it is for the EPAO to determine which is the most appropriate tool for assessing behaviour. It is for this reason that there is no ‘one size fits all’ and that the standard and assessment plan must always be the starting point for developing EPA tools.

 The IfA defines behaviours as follows:

“Behaviours are mind-sets, attitudes or approaches required for competence, generally across the entire occupation. Whilst these can be innate or instinctive, they can also be learnt, so they are effectively a subset of skills. Behaviours tend to be very transferable meaning that, at any one level, they may be more similar across apprenticeship standards than knowledge and skills.”

It has often been mentioned that behaviours are the area where apprentices really get the chance to prove they are distinction (or merit) level, for example, when an apprentice goes above and beyond. It is therefore important to develop methods that effectively assess behaviours alongside the apprentice knowledge and skills. These will then need to be embedded in the tools for end-point assessment. 

We believe that behaviours (which also includes attitude) should be measured throughout the apprenticeship and not simply assessed at the end, and as such, we believe that reviews, self-assessment, feedback, reflective learning and peer review should be used from the very beginning of the apprenticeship and that training providers should map the behaviours of the standard into the training plan and apprentice review methodology that has been agreed with the employer. By embedding such practice, behaviours are being placed at the core of all activities, which in its own right helps to reinforce what is important and show progress.

 However, this approach in its own right does not solve the challenge of how to assess behaviours during end-point assessment. Our end-point assessment expert Jacqui Molkenthin, therefore wanted to share her experience with regard to building a methodology to identity behaviours and then embed them into the tools for end-point assessment. Please remember that this is Jacqui’s experience, which may not be appropriate to some assessment plans or end-point assessment organisations, and such should be treated for information and not as a set of instructions or a set way of doing things.

Some of the stages listed below will already have been completed within some assessment plans, so please always ensure you fully understand the assessment plan before beginning the design of EPA tools:  

  • Identify which behaviours can be assessed by which assessment method, if not already stated within the assessment plan. Some may have multiple methods, but it may be best to focus on one assessment method for each of the behaviours so as to keep it clearer when building the grading methodologies. For example, a behaviour such as, ‘delivering polite service to customers’ may be evidenced through portfolios, work observations / trade tests, and interviews / professional discussions, but your experts may feel that for EPA purposes this may best be evidenced / assessed via the work observation / trade test. 

 

  • Work with the experts to list types of behavioural examples associated with each behaviour listed in the standard, if not already stated within the assessment plan (this should include examples of what would be considered a fail). For example, if one of the behaviours is ‘effective communication’, your experts may say that examples could include: can adapt communications to multiple audiences, can chair a meeting, can listen. If another behaviour is ‘takes responsibility’ examples could include: ability to lead a team, identifies actions that could improve productivity or make recommendations for change/improvement. If another behaviour example is ‘effective timekeeping’, your experts may say that examples include completing tasks on time without error and in line with safety requirements, punctual.

 

  • Work with the experts to help define which of the examples would be considered a fail, and which would be considered a pass, merit or distinction. For example, adapting communication to multiple audiences may be considered a merit because they would only usually be expected to communicate with line managers; the ability to listen may be considered a pass as that is a core requirement of any job in that sector.

 

  • Work with the experts to identify if any weightings would be appropriate to the assessment of behaviours. For example, experts may feel that working safely with others is more critical than timeliness, and as such may say that the politest and most punctual apprentice cannot pass if they cannot work safely with others.

As behaviours are assessed across multiple EPA tools (see bullet point 1) you may wish to develop a matrix approach to the assessment with the work you have completed to define behaviours embedded into each matrix. For example, one matrix for work observation, one matrix for professional discussion, and so on. Each matrix could list the relevant KSBs and examples of what would be considered a fail, pass, merit or distinction. All assessment plans will have some form of grading methodology, with the majority attributing scores to fail, pass, merit and distinction. This would mean that an EPAO would then need to attribute scores to each of the KSBs, taking account of any weighting that the experts may have recommended.

If you would like support in the development of your end-point assessment tools, please do not hesitate to contact Jacqui.

This article was written by Jacqui Molkenthin; check out her profile on our experts page.