Introducing a new online course: A101

Introducing a new online course: A101

Stuart Gallagher, Principal Manager – Operational Research at OCR and Ros Kaijaks, Deputy Head of Vocational Products at OCR (pictured above) have supported Cambridge Assessment Network with the creation of our new online course – A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment.

We spoke to them about assessment learning and how working on the course supported their own professional development.

Studying on the Certificate in the Principles and Practice of Assessment (a forerunner of the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Assessment and Examinations)

Stuart: When I joined OCR, I had a lot of experience of teaching and learning, but was less familiar with educational assessment; I wanted to explore and understand it in more detail – theoretically and practically. It was interesting, and extremely useful, to study on Cambridge Assessment Network’s Certificate in the Principles and Practice of Assessment (CPPA) a few years ago as I could draw on everything I had learnt in my first few months. The best bits were the Saturday schools. There were people from across Cambridge Assessment, and also from other exam boards. It was great to meet other people and consider the topics from their perspective. I also enjoyed the reading – it was a struggle to fit it in at times, but it was incredibly valuable as it made me think about my job in a different way. 

Ros: Much of my assessment knowledge came from hard experience – I was really interested to put this into context, as well as broaden my knowledge to areas where I have had less personal experience. I also studied on the CPPA course, which delivered on both of these. Apart from anything else, it means can engage with other parts of the business using terminology that they will understand! I’ve spent most of my working life at OCR (clocking up 20 years last June). My career has been focussed within assessment and I’ve been involved in developing and managing a wide range of vocational products ranging from Text Processing to Higher Apprenticeships in Management Consulting (with lots in between!).

A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment 

Stuart: I’ve been involved with developing the new A101 course from the very beginning. We thought about the needs of colleagues at Cambridge Assessment and beyond, and then considered what the content should be. I was involved in writing some of the lessons in detail as well as reviewing the whole course and recording the videos that introduce each week’s lesson. 

Ros: We also worked with external consultants to review the content from earlier courses to ensure it was relevant and appropriate to A101. I made no bones about the fact I wanted to ensure that vocational assessment was not forgotten about, particularly as it sometimes poses different challenges to GCSEs and A Levels. We also agreed to present the opening video each week which I think for both of us was a new experience! 

Reflections from developing A101

Stuart: They say that the best way to consolidate what you’ve learnt is to teach it to others. When you need to explain an idea to someone else, you have to think carefully about your own practice – this is even more of a challenge when the course is online. Writing lessons for the course is very different from standing in front of a class – but this is what has made working on A101 a really interesting experience. What’s useful about the course is that it allows you to explore issues beyond those you might deal with every day. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what it takes to get certificates into candidates’ hands on results day and how much we put into getting it right. This course gives people a better idea of the work and ideas that go into delivering fair and accurate results.

Ros: It’s great that we have participants from a number of different countries, who can bring their own international experience. There have been some really interesting discussions about how different assessment can be (and pleasingly how similar they can be in different ways). It’s really reinforced the challenges involved in producing great assessment, and how important it is that we get it right for the user. A101 demystifies this critical aspect of Cambridge Assessment’s work.

Find out more about A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment

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