U076 Key skill assessment unit: Problem solving

4 Structure of the assessment units

This key skill assessment unit does not have specific questions with word limits and no statements indicating you include, say, an essay or a report. Instead, as you tackle the unit you need to ask yourself ‘Which pieces of work show my skills and capabilities to best advantage?’ When you have identified and selected evidence of your skills, you must then relate this evidence directly to the criteria.

This method of building a portfolio is based not on providing right or wrong answers to questions but presenting selected work (called evidence) which shows your capabilities. However, submitting a portfolio of evidence for key skills is not simply a case of gathering together all your course or training material in a folder. Indeed, you are unlikely to show your achievements to best advantage by doing this. Your portfolio for key skills needs to be a ‘showcase’ of your work. It needs to be organised and indexed to both show and explain what it is you do as you go about improving and applying your skills within your study or work activities.

Each of the assessment units asks you to select work to demonstrate achievement of particular criteria. The work or evidence you select may be from your study or work activities. However, there is an important aspect of creating a ‘showcase’ portfolio. It is that you select just enough evidence to meet the relevant criteria. For example, if you are selecting work for the IT key skill, your evidence may come from assignments associated with a course. Any one assignment may not provide exactly the evidence you need – you may find that you need to use work from two or even three different assignments. But the three assignments together may include material that is not relevant to the key skill. In this case, you need to create an example from your assignments that includes only the relevant material and annotate it to show what it is and what you are demonstrating.

All the key skills assessment units have a common two-part structure that should tell the story of your learning journey as you completed the unit. The two parts, A and B, are designed to help you create a portfolio of your work that will show how you applied your key skill capabilities within a particular discipline or work area.

Figure 1: Sample key skills assessment unit: contents page

Part A should give details of what you did to achieve your goal. It is concerned with the processes of improving and learning – how you plan, research tasks, adapt and apply your skills, learn new skills, implement ideas, get feedback, and evaluate your work overall. This framework comprises the three stages Develop a strategy, Monitor progress and Evaluate strategy that are introduced in the OpenLearn unit U529_1 Key skills – making a difference.

Part B asks you to select evidence to show your capabilities in the particular key skill you are developing (for example communication, or information technology). You will need to select work that meets the set of criteria associated with the particular skill. This requires you to take responsibility for selecting your best work and checking that it meets the criteria.

Many activities you complete as part of your course or work may be eligible for inclusion in your key skills portfolio. However, because the portfolio is intended to be consciously and carefully selective, you should choose one or at most two pieces of work for Part B. If you choose more, be sure you can explain why these extra examples of your work are needed.

Overall, the two parts of the portfolio should integrate your selected work to show that you can improve and apply your skills. Your key skills work needs to be carefully planned to enable you to integrate it into the demands of your study or work activities. This means that at an early stage you need to identify your goals and plan what you will do to achieve them. As you implement your plans, you should schedule periods when you can concentrate on your skills, and review points to help you monitor and reflect on your progress. When you have completed your study or work activities, you need to be able to stand back, evaluate and reflect on how things have gone, what you have learned and how this will help you for future work.

In summary, Part A should tell the story of your learning journey in improving and applying your skills; Part B presents the results, the goals you have achieved.