5 Benefits of Observational Assessment

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Observational assessment is often deemed the most appropriate method of assessment for practical skills; by watching someone complete a set task, they can demonstrate their competence by performance.

What are the benefits of using this type of appraisal system within a modern day workplace?

Advantages of Observational Assessment

  1. Reliable Data - As the assessor is actively watching and recording the actions of the subject during an observational assessment, the results can be deemed to be more reliable.
  1. Direct Practice of an Action - With the physical demonstration of the desired task, the candidate is immediately immersed in the actual work helping them to understand the employer's requirements. It also helps the employer identify any skills gaps which need to be addressed.
  2. Immediate Results - As the assessment takes place in real time with the assessor overtly involved in the process, results are available immediately. So employees don’t have what seem like an endless wait for examination results. 
  3. Can Take Place in the Workplace - Unlike some assessment techniques, observational assessment can take place within the workplace itself. This can help alleviate fears of an unknown environment which can add to the employee apprehension. It also benefits the employers who do not have additional travel costs to the relevant assessment centres.
  4. Ideal for marking project work where team activities are undertaken - The marking of integrated projects or end tests has typically been a difficult area and have not been part of any online assessment. Observational assessment can easily allow assessors to mark multiple students/employees who are working on group tasks at the same time giving a truer comparison than marking subjectively after the event.

Using Virtual Reality for Observational Assessment

eCom are proud to have developed one of the first solutions to combine virtual reality (VR) for learning and assessment. This tool will help make assessments more:

  • Relevant to the workplace and therefore a more accurate reflection of whether an individual has acquired the skills they need;
  • Consistent, since all candidates will experience exactly the same environment for their assessment
  • Transparent, as the assessors can see exactly what the candidate is sees, which makes this a great tool for observational assessment.

Watch the video below to learn more about the positive impact of our VR solution on the UK’s vocational skills landscape.



You can also read more about our project with Scottish Waterways Trust, 'Digging Into The Past'

Key Assessment Conditions

As with all assessments there are certain exam conditions that must be adhered to in order to ensure fairness. These can be said to be even more important when dealing with overt assessment.

  • Clear Planning is Required - As with all assessments, clear planning and preparation is required before the examination, this is even more crucial for observational assessment. Writing the statements in the observation checklist takes time, and also assigning a marking scheme to the statements needs to be thought through. It is also imperative that the employee fully understands what is expected of them during the process. As far as possible, interruptions should be limited during the examination process from simple things such as ensuring mobile phones are on silent through to putting up any necessary signage.
  • Exact Replication of Examination Conditions - It is essential that each employee experiences the same examination conditions. This can be a challenge and should be a major consideration in the planning stages.
  • Confidence in Technology - If you are collecting results via an online platform then you must have confidence in the system. Even a single system issue can cause a lack of trust of the assessment as a whole by both the assessor and the employee.
  • Allowances Given Due to the Style of Assessment - Some people are more comfortable with observational assessment than others, so consideration needs to be given to those who are not – for some candidates having their every move assessed can cause involuntary physical reactions such as shaking which can have a direct impact in their ability to complete the task.
  • Resit Should Be Offered - It should therefore be made clear to the candidate prior to the examination that they do have an option for any resits on offer, this may be all or part of the assessment.

Observational Assessment in Action

Using our eNetAssess system eCom Scotland worked with SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board) to develop a technology solution that enables assessors to record observations on handheld devices in the workshop as the apprentices are working through the scenarios.

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To discuss how online observational assessment could help you, please contact us or call 01383 630032


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