Discuss and analyse different methods of initial assessment and demonstrate how these can be used to identify a learner’s individual needs, set personalised learning objectives and inform your planning.

Initial assessment takes many forms and is usually undertaken before a learner starts a programme, and continues over a period of time. Initial assessments form part of the interview process, when suitability for the chosen programme is discussed. According to Gravells (2008), Initial Assessment should take place prior to the programme starting to ensure the learner is on the right route. Without initial assessment the learner could be placed on a programme that they are unable to achieve.

As a Key Skills Tutor in the Construction Department of college, I am not involved in the interviewing of students for their main programme. My first involvement would be during the induction week when diagnostic assessments are undertaken. All new learners are required to take a diagnostic assessment to ascertain their level of English and number skills. This is a computer based assessment and the results are available immediately to the student, with an explanation of the results from the tutor.  

In addition to the main programme of study, the results are used to decide if learners will enrol on key skills or skills for life. Cox and Harper (2000.p75) state that, ‘Diagnostic assessment is used to determine the presence or absence of necessary skills or knowledge’. However, the result of the diagnostic assessment is only a starting point. Whilst they do give an insight into the learner‘s capabilities, they are not comprehensive and do not reflect individual differences within the learner group.

Over the last two years the computer assessment has been supported by a short, handwritten task, as the results of the computer task alone was not always an accurate reflection of students’ ability. For example, learners with dyslexia were often not identified by the...