CIEA President attends VTQ Research and Reflective Practice Forum

The Forum was supported by Ofqual and the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) and was well attended with delegates representing eighty-four awarding organisations.

The Forum, with its focus on research in Vocational and Technical Qualifications, was organised through a representative committee chaired by Fiona Summers, Non-executive Director of FAB, and is the first of its kind. The overarching aim of the Forum is to trigger the establishment of a community of practice around research in these important qualifications.

In opening the conference, Paul Newton, Chair in Research at Ofqual, noted that despite the importance of VTQs, there is a paucity of existing research into these qualifications and therefore a need to establish a wider and engaged research community to support the efficacy and development of qualifications in this sector.

The agenda covered a range of presentations including sessions on assessment, technology and validity, and quality assurance with a specific focus on the implications for awarding organisations in offering multiple choice questions in mathematics in paper based and on-screen formats; the challenges of safeguarding assessment validity in an artificial intelligence (AI) world of assessment; and approaches to quality assurance for criterion referenced grade-based centre assessments and the role of external quality assurance in nurturing institutional quality culture.

The Forum also offered roundtable discussions including approaches to standardisation in performance-based examinations, making AI work for learners and developing and assessing transferrable and generic skills in VTQs.

It was clear from the level of audience engagement that there is a genuine appetite to support the aims of this Forum and the event bodes well for further gatherings of this kind. In this issue of On the Mark, Caroline Morin gives an outline of her research into factors that make assessment criteria more or less difficult to apply in end-point assessments and calls for end-point assessors to take part in her study. Supporting this research presents a good opportunity to contribute to the aims of the VTQ Research Forum.

The CIEA supports the intentions laid out at this inaugural forum and will continue to engage with the Forum organisers. Members are invited to share their experiences and/or research into VTQs, and to promote the recently introduced Special Interest Group (SIG) and Post 16 Lead Assessor Support Programme which offer further opportunities to raise the profile of VTQs. Find out more here