EuroFire – Assessing Competence – English




Assessing Competence

Assessment of competence is a key part of a Competency Based Training system. It is a quality assurance system that can lead to certification and qualifications.

It is preferable for candidates to have their competence assessed in the work place, doing the job and using the skills and knowledge defined in the competency standards.

A very different approach is required compared to doing tests in a classroom. At the core of this type of system is the need for candidates to collect evidence in a portfolio to show that they are competent in relation to the standards. There is no pass or fail in the system, just an assessment of whether the candidate is competent or not yet competent or there is insufficient information to make a judgement.

Evidence can be collected from a number of sources; some of which involve the trainee putting things together and some where other’s get involved too. 

Forms of evidence:

  1. Direct observation of your performance by the Assessor

  2. Work products

  3. Authenticated statement – a witness testimony

  4. Personal statement

  5. Outcomes from questioning

  6. Outcomes of simulation

  7. Assignments or projects

  8. Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) – evidence from the past


How does the assessment process work?

Like any new process, the assessment system needs to be understood by the trainee. The assessor will first meet up with the trainee and their employer. At the meeting the assessor will go through how the system works and what’s required. Also who does what, when and what help and support is provided. They will then work with the trainee to establish:

  • what they can do already
  • the standard and level they are aiming for
  • what they need to learn
  • the activities that will help the trainee learn the subject.

After that, it’s a little bit like detective work; the trainee has to collect evidence to show that he or she has been doing the work required and to the right standards. Once it has been collected, the assessor then has to check this evidence to make sure the trainee has enough to prove they can do what’s required.


Quality assurance and evidence

It is important that evidence is:

–         Valid: it relates to the competency standard you are trying to prove

–         Authentic:  the evidence, or an identified part of it (e.g. report) was produced by you

–         Consistent:  achieved on more than one occasion

–         Current:  usually not more than two years old

–         Sufficient:  covers all the performance and knowledge requirements laid down in the standards


Demonstrating competence: skills and knowledge

In order to meet the standards, you will also be required to prove knowledge and understanding.  Each unit contains a list summarising the knowledge, understanding and skills a candidate must possess.  Evidence of how these have been achieved and applied could be inferred in the performance evidence as one or all of the following:

–         Descriptions of why a particular approach was used

–         Personal reports about the learning process

–         Reflective reports which include how a theory or principle was applied

–         Assessment interviews and tests

–         Reponses to questioning

–         Work products


Assessment and the learning process

Assessment of competence is normally done towards the end of the learning process. The competency standard is the benchmark that all steps relate to. Even though individuals do not necessarily need formal training to acquire all the necessary knowledge and skills trainees do need to be supervised, especially when safety is a concern.

Progression of learning

The stage in the learning process that assessment is undertaken is normally when someone has had some experience at work bedding in the skills and knowledge that they have acquired in training.

  • Induction

  • Learning

  • Development

  • Competent practise


  • Excellence / professionalism


Continuing Professional Development

It is also important to note when someone receives a certificate indicating competence this is not the end of the learning process. Improvements in performance can still be achieved and should be a focus for the individual.

Practice, experience, and feedback from supervisors are all ways to help improve performance. Formal performance appraisals perhaps linked back to the competency standards and continuing training can also help develop professional wildfire suppression and prescribed fire skills.

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