Learners are sometimes assessed through performance, depending on the nature of the task.

This is the kind of assessment in which the teacher observes and makes a judgement about the learners’ demonstration of a skill or competency in creating a product, constructing a response or making a presentation.

At times the performance task is so real such that it’s like what is encountered in the real life. Such kind of performance is called authentic performance and it emphasises application of skills, focuses on direct assessment, uses realistic problems, and encourages open-ended thinking.

In conducting performance tasks, the learning goals, standards and performance criteria and assessment procedures are clearly spelt out so that learners understand what they are supposed to learn.

The assessment of performance tasks is based on the processes or products or both. Process assessment involves the evaluation of approaches, methods, and techniques employed during the conduct of a task whereas product assessment involves the evaluation of the final product that learners create.

In most cases, the two are always assessed to complement each other or in situations where one cannot be without the other.

In tertiary institutions authentic performance is offered in the form of internship. Learners are assessed using appropriate instruments (not a written test) and the marks contribute towards grading.

The assessment involves both the technical/hard skills and the soft/life/peoples skills. We will discuss assessment of the soft skills in our next article.

Performance assessment in the workplace is referred to as performance appraisal, review or evaluation. For appraisal to be valid, it should be based on the agreed employee’s objectives.

Its reliability depends on multiple appraisals spread throughout the year, using multiple appraisers. The multiple appraisers include the supervisor, employees self-assessing; co-workers conducting peer appraisal, and the mediator.

This is the same strategy that is applied in the beauty pageant contest, where there are more than one judges.

In so doing, the average score that the employee gets tends to mirror the learners’ abilities better. Just like in the learner’s assessment, employee’s appraisal focuses on what the employee is doing right before any criticism is given. The score the employee gets at the beginning of the year should carry the same weight as the score at the end of the year, because the work done at the beginning is equally important as the one conducted at the end.

Some employees’ jobs are process-based and have little or no product to show. For example, the driver’s work involves more of processes than the product. Thus it is logical to appraise the driver during the process of driving.

The only product is the logbook which does not give much information about the driver’s performance. As such basing the appraisal of the driver on product renders the appraisal invalid and unreliable. Appraisal in the workplace is not done by interviewing or administering a written test of what employees did throughout the year. Instead, it is done using a detailed assessment scoring rubrics, with clear and transparent expression of requirements.

The scoring rubric could be holistic or analytic. Holistic scoring is used to appraise the overall performance of an employee across all the performance criteria.

Analytic scoring breaks down the general description of a holistic process into separate scores for each criterion to provide specific diagnostic information.

Because every employee contributes to the overall organisation’s productivity and bottom line, the aim of appraisal is therefore solely for the accomplishment of that.

Therefore, using properly crafted appraisal instruments should enable the organisation to realise its visions. However, most of the time, organisations’ management sacrifices that aim either by engaging consultants without necessary psychometric skills or by resorting to appraising what is easy for purposes of compliance.

Such sacrifice is possible only when the role of appraisal in raising productivity and subsequently the bottom line is misunderstood and not aligned. As a consequence, the greatest impediment to achieving the organisation’s vision is none other than appraisals.

Equally, persistent use of the poorly crafted standardised appraisal instruments is a clear sign of perpetual failure to link appraisal with the organisation’s bottom line.

Underscoring the importance of effective appraisal, one author once said, ‘In a highly successful organisation, workers are responsible and seek ways to do even better.

“They know what to do and find ways to do it. They can’t wait to go to work and work until the job is done. They are not driven by clocks but want to perform well because it is the right thing to do.

“They are self-motivated, and the only concern the CEO has is to be sure employees don’t spend all their time on the job and ignore their families and personal needs’.

Yes, it’s possible! The Author holds PhD in ‘Assessment & Quality Assurance’ and writes in his personal capacity as a Psychometric Researcher.

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