Since January 2016 we've been working with a small group of employers and universities to explore a new approach to direct observation in practice.
Together we developed, tested and refined new assessment criteria and guidance material for direct observation. The project also researched and developed the facility for the secure storage of video and processes and protocols to support this.
We'll be continuing to develop and test the assessment and resources during 2017/18.
- the value of assessing direct practice – the available research suggests that it may be a predictor of field performance
- the direct observation of practice is central to holistic assessment
- conduct and assessment of practice is variable, this has been consistently noted in the moderation process
- a significant issue is assessor capability and bias*
- Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS) practice development educator (PDE) had no specific learning outcomes for observation
- it's desirable to moderate/standardise assessment of practice – streamlining the direct observation process makes this more robust.
* For more information Humphrey, C. (2007) Observing Students Practice Through the Looking Glass and Beyond. Social work education Vol. 26, No 7, October 2007 pp. 723- 736
There are two elements to the assessment of the direct observation
- The structured observation by the assessor of the behaviour, skills and knowledge that the NQSW is demonstrating in the practice situation (assessment of skills, behaviour and knowledge).
- A post observation structured written reflection completed by the NQSW as soon as possible after the observation and before any detailed discussion on the intervention.
Both of these components provide the evidence for the assessors overall holistic assessment of the observation.
We've developed guidance and templates to help you and a flowchart to illustrate the process
When the Knowledge and Skills Statement for practice supervisors is finalised and the revisions to the PEPS/PDE are completed it's expected that these learning outcomes, specifically developed to focus on observation skills, will be fully integrated to revised learning outcomes.
There is an expectation that all assessors will have achieved the learning outcomes as required for PDEs.
There's further guidance on the principles for the training of assessors in direct observation skills along with support including:
A technical solution was found to the secure storage of video material. The project used tablets to record the observation. The tablets were equipped with software which ensured that as soon as the social worker reached a place where there was a secure wifi connection the video was uploaded to the storage space and wiped from the tablet.
Permissions were required to view the video. Discreet log ins were provided for the assessor, NQSW and an internal moderator. Arrangements were in place for the video to be destroyed at the end of the project.
For the purpose of the project Skills for Care contracted to provide the equipment and the secure storage facility.
The project developed Data Protection guidance and consent form.