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The value of reflective practice and continual professional development

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Reflective practice is essential as an Assessor as this leads to a greater understanding of how to improve. Self-assessment is something that an assessor should be constantly engaged in as it seeks to increase the depth of understanding of the process of assessment and a perpetual identification of gaps in knowledge that can assist the assessor and help those being assessed. Critical analysis and evaluation refocuses thinking on existing knowledge and helps generate new knowledge and ideas. Ultimately reflective practice enables an assessor to improve the quality of their performance by looking objectively at their skills and professional judgement, in both successes and failures and applying them to their continual professional development,

Use of the PDR system is an essential way of reflecting, when an assessor looks at their performance during the past year, and assesses their learning / development needs for the next year. By identifying strengths (e.g. knowledge), weaknesses (e.g. time management), opportunities (e.g. learning new skills), and threats (e.g. over stretching) an assessor can set realistic targets for their own development which can be outlined in their PDR for the coming year. In this way, not only will an assessor maintain the necessary skills/knowledge but they will develop in a more complete manner as opposed to focusing on just one area. Operationally an assessor must be competent as any failing will diminish their standing as an assessor and lead to questions about credibility and reliability. It is not just enough to maintain operational skills however but a good assessor should seek to develop them so as to give a greater understanding of the needs of a candidate when it comes to producing evidence. changes to policy, procedure or legislation can alter learning criteria and need to be fully assimilated into the assessment process.

By speaking to peers assessors can enhance learning and this should encourage them to reflect. The value of feedback from colleagues and managers is high so as to create a level of understanding as to the standards expected. Constructive assessment of each other can be crucial to the development of an assessor. even an experienced assessor requires feedback to continue to prevent the threat of becoming staid and inflexible to the changing needs of the learners. External evaluators’ feedback is a chance to measure ones abilities as an assessor against other individuals and professionals which can in turn help an organisation review what it needs to do to be considered competent according to the recognised standards.

Similarly reflecting on one’s own assessing can ensure that modifications are implemented to assessment plans, and assessment methods etc. which help to evolve the role and performance of an assessor in to a more effective product. The application of developing technologies to extend and enhance assessment process is a vital tool in modern day assessing and by embracing new technology to document/ give feedback to learners will assist with time management allowing learners better opportunity to flourish.

In summing up it is correct to say that only by looking inward can an assessor really identify areas for development and ultimately improve competence. Reflecting throughout ones career is not just looking back on past actions and events, but is taking a conscious look at emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and using that information to add to ones existing knowledge base and reach a higher level of understanding. It may be the most important source of personal professional development and improvement.

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