supported with funding fromthe commonwealth departmentof family and community servicesA Guide toWritingCompetencyBased TrainingMaterials

Commonwealth of AustraliaPublished by National Volunteer Skills CentreFirst Published October 2003Disclaimer:All rights reserved. This work is copyright, but permission is given to trainers and facilitators ofvolunteers to make copies by photocopying or other duplicating processes for use within volunteerinvolving organisations or in a workplace where the training is being conducted for volunteers. Thispermission does not extend to the making of copies for use outside the immediate training environmentfor which they are made, nor the making of copies for hire or resale to third parties. For permissionoutside of these guidelines, apply in writing to Volunteering Australia Inc.Enquires should be directed toNational Volunteer Skills CentreSuite 2, Level 311 Queens RoadMelbourne Vic 3004T 03 9820 4100F 03 9820 1206E [email protected] National Volunteer Skills Centre acknowledges the following people and organisations that have assisted on thedevelopment of this project.The Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services.The Project Initiator and FunderVolunteering Australia Inc (ARBN): 062 806 464)The Project Manager of the National Volunteer Skills Centre.TAFESA, Onkaparinga InstituteThe Project Manager for Training MaterialsWritten by Graeme DobsonNational Library of Australia Cataloguing in Publication Entry:A guide to writing competency based training materials.BibliographyISBN 1 1920848 10 X1. Training Materials. 2. Authorship. I. National Volunteer Skills Centre808.066

ContentsContents . 1Using this Guide . 5Tips for Writers . 5Overview . 5Competency Based Training in Australia. 5Table 1 – The Four Skills . 5The National Training Agenda . 5Training Packages – What Are They? . 5Figure 1: Training Packages – The Elements . 5Figure 2: A Better Approach for Structuring Training or Learning? . 5Australian Qualifications Framework. 5Table 2 – Qualifications in Australia. 5Table 3 – Distinguishing Features Certificate I – Certificate IV. 5Table 4 – Distinguishing Features: Diploma – Advanced Diploma. 5Unit of Competency. 5Table 5 – Structure for Units of Competency. 5Table 6 – Forms of Assessment. 5Evidence Gathering Methods . 5Types of Assessment Evidence . 5Examples of Assessment Methodologies . 5How We Learn. 5Stages of Learning . 5Figure 3: The Learning Ladder. 5Applying the Principles of Adult Learning . 5Learning Styles . 5Kolb's Learning Inventory . 5Figure 4: Combining Kolb with Honey & Mumford . 5Table 7 - Using Honey and Mumford . 5VARK . 5Table 8 – Using VARK to Improve Training Materials and Learning. 5NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 1

Barriers to Learning. 5Robert Gagné's Nine Steps of Instruction. 5Unpacking a Training Package. 5Choosing Learning Activities and Methods . 5Copyright Considerations . 5Writing Effective Training or Learning Materials. 5Developing Your Writing Style. 5Improving your Writing. 5Key Elements in a Learners Guide . 5Overview . 5Introducing the style, format and expectations. 5Topics . 5Sub Headings . 5Time. 5Symbols and Icons. 5Activities. 5Feedback . 5Content. 5Learning Material Summary. 5References and Resources . 5Cover and Binding. 5Summary. 5Glossary . 5Resources. 5Internet. 5Books and Articles. 5Attachment 1 – A Unit of Competency . 5(BSZ508A) Design Training Courses. 5Attachment 2 – NVSC Writers Checklist. 5Attachment 3 – ANTA Quality Principles. 5NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 4

Using this GuideThis guidebook is written as an application focused reference for novice and veterantrainers, working in the not-for-profit sectors, who develop or deliver competency basedmaterials or learning activities.It is recognised that many people who access this guide will have been exposed to a gooddeal of the content, so in many instances using this book will serve as a means ofrefreshing your knowledge. In other circumstances you will be looking for specificinformation or guidance on an aspect of training development or delivery. Whatever yourneed, by using the comprehensive table of contents you should be able to quickly findwhat you are seeking.For those that like to scan through a document the key sections are: Competency Based Training in Australia. This section provides an overview ofthe national training agenda, Training Packages, the Australian QualificationsFramework and Units of Competency Assessment of Competence. Covers the forms and principles of assessment as wellas looking at evidence gathering and assessment methodologies. How We Learn. Looks at how adults learn and includes information on learningstyles and barriers to learning. Writing Effective Training Materials. The key focus of this guidebook. Providesinformation on how to structure your training, select learning activities and developyour writing style. There is also a suggested framework for learning guides.Tips for WritersWriters TipsThroughout this text there are ‘tips’ that mayAssist writers to produce more effective materials.Many of these ‘tips’ are highlighted bythis callout symbol.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 5

OverviewBefore we begin it may be useful to consider some of changes that are impacting ontraining in Australia today. We are in the midst of a shift from the traditional approachesto training to a focus on the application of learning through assessing competency. Thisshift from a training activity to a focus on performance is generating a significantincrease in our: Awareness of how people learn and what trainers and training writers should do toencourage effective learning Understanding of the pivotal role of assessment in the learning process Capacity to develop and deliver competency based training Expectations by organisations that training professionals will direct their attentionbeyond the training activity to improving or enhancing performance (an outcome) Awareness of what exemplary trainers, training writers and assessors actually do andwhat skills and knowledge they need to performSo the challenge we all face is to develop and deliver training and assessment resourcesthat enable a person to transport the skills and knowledge learnt to whatever situationthey may find themselves in, while at the same time instilling in them the confidence todo well in their current situation.As described by Gilbert (1996) there are two elements in performance: the behavior oractivity and the outcome or accomplishment. For example the delivery of training has anactivity component (presenting or facilitating) and an outcome (participant learning). Fortraining to support improvements in learner performance it needs to connect with thelearner’s experiences and current activities in a way that promotes transfer of learning.Knowledge must come through action; you can have no testwhich is not fanciful, save by trial.Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC)NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 6

Written materials form the basis of most training, learning or assessment activities.These materials can serve a number of purposes. The principal uses are: provide trainers with guidance and resources for conducting or supporting learningactivities provide learners with a resource that will support an ‘instructor led’ delivery andwill be a useful reference for future application of the learning providing learners and assessors with resources for understanding and completingassessments serve as guide or resource for ‘self paced’ learningA fundamental requirement for successful writing is to invite the learner to connect totheir framework for learning and to present information in an engaging manner thatappeals to the diverse range of potential learners.As you begin to make use of this guide you may find that a number of terms used arenew to you. The bottom line is that you should be familiar with them because they are thelanguage of training today. For those who are not familiar with this terminology we haveprovided a glossary.We hope that this guide will assist you to increase your understanding of competencybased training in the Australia and help you to write more effective training or learningmaterials.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 7

Competency Based Training in AustraliaCompetency based training is a structured approach to training and assessment that isdirected toward achieving specific outcomes. It is about assisting individuals to acquireskills and knowledge so they are able to perform a task to a specified standard undercertain conditions. In competency based training, the outcomes to be achieved are clearlystated so that learners know exactly what they have to be able to do, trainers know whattraining or learning is to be provided and organisations know the skill levels required oftheir people. The emphasis in competency based training is on "performing" rather thanjust "knowing".A competency is defined in terms of what a person is required todo (performance), under what conditions it is to be done(conditions) and how well it is to be done (standards).In the Australian context a broad definition of competency has been adopted that includesfour aspects of work performance. These are described in the following chart.Table 1 – The Four SkillsTask SkillsBeing able to perform individual tasks.Task Management SkillsBeing able to manage a number of different tasks withinthe job.ContingencyManagement SkillsBeing able to respond to irregularities and breakdowns inroutine.Environment SkillsBeing able to deal with the responsibilities andexpectations of the work environment.A competency is much more than just a description of a work taskor activity. It encompasses measures of the competency andaddresses the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for aperson to perform a job to a required standard.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 8

The National Training AgendaRegardless of the type of training that you are writing or delivering it is important youhave an awareness of the training reform agenda in Australia. In the past poorcommitment to training by organisations was a key factor in the lack of appropriate anduseful workplace skills. So much so that in 1990 the government passed the TrainingGuarantee Act to stimulate an increase in training activities by requiring employers tospend a minimum amount on training each year. About this time the governmentestablished the National Training Board (now the Australian National TrainingAuthority) to assist industry to develop national competency standards. This began theprocess of making training more accountable for delivering competency outcomes whichcontribute to building our economy and society.The current national strategy ‘A Bridge to the Future 1998-2003’ set a mission to:“Ensure the skills of the Australian labour force are sufficient tosupport internationally competitive commerce and industry; and toprovide individuals with opportunities to optimize their potential”.The interim evaluation of this strategy shows much has been achieved with significantincreases in participation in Vocational Education and Training (VET). Thedevelopment and implementation Training Packages has been another significantsuccess. There is increased equity and accessibility to VET especially for young peopleand adults with limited educational and training experience. The national recognition ofskills has improved and the introduction of the Australian Quality Training Framework(AQTF) in July 2002 is expected to make mutual recognition a reality.In 2003 the State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for VET agreed inprinciple to a national VET strategy for 2004-2010. This has two components that areespecially relevant to volunteer involving organisations. VET working for people – giving Australians world class skills and knowledge VET working for communities – building inclusive and sustainable communitiesNVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 9

You may like to refer to the following websites to source further information and as anongoing way of keeping abreast of current developments, issues and terminology: The Australian National Training Authority at The National Training Information Service at The Resource Generator at Learning Communities Catalyst at Packages – What Are They?Training packages are sets of nationally endorsed standards and qualifications forrecognising and assessing people's skills. They describe the work tasks or activities andthe underpinning skills and knowledge needed to perform effectively in the workplace.Training packages do not prescribe how an individual should be trained.Generally Trainers, Writers and Assessors develop the materials required to support thedelivery of training, learning and assessment activities. These are frequently referred toas the non-endorsed component and are not generally published with the endorsedcomponents.Figure 1: Training Packages – The lsLearnersGuideNon EndorsedComponentsTrainer / FacilitatorGuideNVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 10

Training Packages are developed by industry through National Industry TrainingAdvisory Bodies (ITABs), Recognised Bodies or by enterprises to describe whatcompetent performers do within specific industries or industry sectors. As of October2002, there were 76 endorsed Training Packages. Seven of these were enterprise TrainingPackages, developed by enterprises for their own unique needs.Each training package comprises a series of qualifications relevant to an industry sector.It is becoming increasingly clear that there is significant overlap across industry sectors.That is, some basic work tasks are the same whether you are in retail, recreation, buildingor community services sectors. For example, all workers need to communicateeffectively with each other and the people they provide a service to, all need to be awareof Occupational, Health and Safety (OH&S) and each person needs to understand theirrole and responsibilities and to work within the framework of their organisation. This hasmeant that increasingly there is a sharing of common areas (i.e. Units of Competency)between the training packages.This is a positive step for the learner as they may start a course of study and find that thisis not what they wish to do, but can gain recognition for some or all of what they havelearnt. This can be especially valuable if and when they move to a different industrysector to continue their development.Currently Training Packages are reviewed every three years. This means they areregularly subject to a nation wide consultation process. It is important to keep abreast ofany changes that take place as a result of this review process.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 11

Figure 2: A Better Approach for Structuring Training or ingYesAward QualificationorCertificate of AttainmentAs previously highlighted the introduction of Training Packages has shifted the focusfrom training to the application of learning through assessing and recognizingcompetency. In this approach it does not matter how the person acquired theircompetence.Best practice approaches to training are assessment driven. This is where assessment isused to recognise a learner’s current competence. Comparison of this information withwhat is required leads to decisions on what training or learning is required to fill theidentified gaps. In some situations a person may attain a qualification without having toattend a training course or participating in further learning activities. This is frequentlyreferred to as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).Learner Self AssessmentAs you write training, learning or assessment materials it isimportant to build in self assessment for learners. This providesan opportunity for learners to focus their learning and givefeedback on the success of their learning. It also helps thelearner decide when they are ready for assessment.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 12

Australian Qualifications FrameworkAs we have mentioned there are a number of qualifications that a person may complete inany sector. These qualifications make up what is commonly referred to as the AustralianQualifications Framework (AQF) and this was introduced in January 1995. In August2003 it was agreed to add an Associate Degree in the VET Sector.Table 2 – Qualifications in AustraliaSchools SectorVET SectorHigher Education SectorDoctoral DegreeMasters DegreeGraduate DiplomaGraduate CertificateAssociate DegreeBachelor DegreeAdvanced DiplomaAdvanced DiplomaDiplomaDiplomaCertificate IVCertificate IIICertificate IICertificate ISenior SecondaryCertificate of EducationAs you can see the AQF covers qualifications are issued by secondary schools, VETproviders and higher education institutions. It is an integrated framework forqualifications from senior secondary certificates through to doctoral degrees.In the VET sector Training Packages are used to specify the combination ofcompetencies required to achieve a particular qualification.Materials and Training at the Right Level?As you write training and learning materials it is useful tocross-check the content and learning activitiesagainst the distinguishing features for thequalification.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 13

Table 3 – Distinguishing Features Certificate I – Certificate IVCertificate I Demonstrate knowledge by recall in a narrow range of areas Demonstrate basic practical skills such as the use of relevant tools Perform a sequence of routine tasks given clear directionsCertificate II Demonstrate basic operational knowledge in a moderate range ofareas Apply a defined range of skills Apply known solutions to a limited range of predictable problems Perform a range of tasks where choice between a limited range ofoptions is required Assess and record information from varied sources Take limited responsibility for own work outputsCertificate III Demonstrate some relevant theoretical knowledge Apply a range of well developed skills Apply known solutions to a variety of predictable problems Perform processes that require a range of well developed skillswhere some discretion and judgement is required Interpret available information using discretion and judgement Take responsibility for own outputs in work and learning Take limited responsibility for the outputs of othersCertificate IV Demonstrate understanding of a broad knowledge baseincorporating some theoretical concepts Apply solutions to a defined range of unpredictable problems Identify and apply skill and knowledge areas to a wide variety ofcontexts with depth in some areas Identify, analyse and evaluate information from a variety of sources Responsibility for own outputs in relation to specified qualitystandards Take limited responsibility for the achievement of group outcomesSource: Australian Qualifications Framework – Implementation Handbook, Third Edition, 2002NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 14

Table 4 – Distinguishing Features: Diploma – Advanced DiplomaDiploma Demonstrate understanding of a broad knowledge baseincorporating theoretical concepts, with substantial depth in someareas Analyse and plan approaches to technical problems or managementrequirements Evaluate information using it to forecast for planning or researchpurposes Transfer and apply theoretical concepts and / or technical orcreative skills to a range of situations Take responsibility for own outputs in relation to broad quantityand quality parameters Take limited responsibility for the achievement of group outcomesAdvancedDiploma Demonstrate understanding of specialised knowledge with depth insome areas Analyse, diagnose, design and execute judgements across a broadrange of technical or management functions Generate ideas through the analysis of information and concepts atan abstract level Demonstrate a command of wide-ranging, highly specialisedtechnical, creative or conceptual skills Demonstrate accountability for personal outcomes within broadparameters Demonstrate accountability for group outcomes within broadparametersSource: Australian Qualifications Framework – Implementation Handbook, Third Edition, 2002NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 15

Unit of CompetencyEvery training package details qualifications that a person may choose to completebecause it is relevant to their career or interests. Each of these qualifications is made upof a number of competencies. These relate to the level of qualification that a personelects to complete.Units of Competence are a key component of all competency standards and the buildingblocks for VET sector qualifications. They are statement of a key function or tasks in aparticular job or occupation.Table 5 – Structure for Units of CompetencyUnit Title andDescriptionThe title is a short statement of the competency covered by the unitexpressed as an outcome. The description expands on the title andstates the broad application of skills and knowledge in the workplace.It may also note relationships with other competency units.Element ofCompetencyAny of the basic components of a unit of competency which describethe key activities or elements of the work covered by the unit. Theydescribe, in outcome terms, functions a person is able to perform in aparticular aspect of work.PerformanceCriteriaSpecifies the standards of performance in terms of a set of outcomeswhich need to be achieved in order to be deemed competent. Used byassessors to judge whether the combined unit and elements have beenperformed to the required standard.Range ofVariablesSpecifies the range of contexts and conditions to which theperformance criteria apply. (also called range statements)EvidenceGuideProvides guidance to the interpretation and assessment of the unit ofcompetency, including the aspects which need to be emphasised inassessment, relationships to other units, and the required evidence ofcompetency.NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 16

Each unit of competency has a national code (e.g. BSZ508A) and the first three lettersidentify the training package that the competency is from. In this case the competency isfrom the business services package. The end letter identifies the version.The latest versions can be obtained on the National Training Information Service website at unit of competency that covers the work a writer would do in designing anddeveloping training materials is included in Attachment 1 at the end of this guide.Are You Competent?Attachment 1 – Design Training Courses – Is the unit ofCompetency that covers the requirements and responsibilities fordesigning training courses to meet client identified outcomes andwhere appropriate, to receive formal recognition.Take ‘time out’ and check it out.Are you walking the talk?NVSC Handbook – A Guide to Writing Competency Based Training MaterialsPage 17

Assessment of CompetenceCompetency based assessment is the process of collecting evidence and makingjudgments against set criteria. In the VET sector the criteria is based on the performancean individual is expected to demonstrate in the workplace. These are described in therelevant unit of competency.Accredited courses include an assessment strategy and this provides guidance for thedevelopment and conduct of assessments. This may include information on evidencegathering and an overview of the assessment process, methods and assessment tools.When developing materials for delivery of units of an accredited course, the assessmentcriteria and the conditions and method of assessment for each learning outcome must bespecified.With Competency Based Training, a key emphasis is on the learners’ ability todemonstrate that they are competent in a variety of ways and over a period of time. Thismeans that the assessment of competency may involve a range of tasks and activ

Authority) to assist industry to develop national competency standards. This began the process of making training more accountable for delivering competency outcomes which contribute to building our economy and society. The current national stra