Rules of Evidence

By December 19, 2017RTO Info

Rules of Evidence

So what are the rules of evidence anyway!

It’s really not good enough to just collect any old evidence. Just as the way we collect evidence is guided by the principles of assessment, the way we collect evidence is guided by the rules of evidence.

Rule Evidence must…
Valid – Address the elements and performance criteria
– Reflect the skills, knowledge and context described in the competency standard
– Demonstrate the skills and knowledge are applied in real or simulated workplace situations
Current – Demonstrate the candidate’s current skills and knowledge
– Comply with current standards
Sufficient – Demonstrate competence over a period of time
– Demonstrate competence that is able to be repeated
– Comply with language, literacy and numeracy levels which match
– those required by the work task (not beyond)
Authentic – Be the work of the candidate
– Be able to be verified as genuine

To better understand how these rules affect the way that we assess, let’s have a look at each one in more detail.


The assessor is assured that the learner has the skills, knowledge and attributes as described in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements.  Validity is assured when the performance required matches the performance described in a competency standard.


The assessor is assured that the assessment evidence demonstrates current competency. This requires the assessment evidence to be from the present or the very recent past.  Currency means evidence needs to be checked to ensure it shows recent performance.


The assessor is assured that the quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence enables a judgement to be made of a learner’s competency.

A judgement has to be made concerning how much evidence to call for. How much is required for the assessor to accept the performance as competent? Too little evidence risks the assessment not being reliable; too much leads to waste of time and effort.


The assessor is assured that the evidence presented for assessment is the learner’s own work.

Authenticity means evidence needs to be checked to ensure it actually relates to the performance of the person being assessed, and not that of another person. Checking for authenticity is important when some supplementary sources of evidence are used in assessment.

Supplying the Evidence

It is very easy to get too much evidence. It is also very easy to get too much evidence that doesn’t really help us to make good decisions. Because of this, it is in everyone’s interests to guide our learners through the selection, organisation and submission of evidence.

The first thing we need to do, however, is work out what makes quality evidence. The answer to this is quite simple. It is evidence that lets us make decisions about whether someone can do what it is that they are meant to be able to do, ie, it will help us to recognise competency.

Specifically, quality evidence addresses the rules of evidence as described above and:

  • reflects the skills, knowledge and attributes defined in the relevant unit of competency
  • shows application of the skills in the context described in the range statement in the unit of competency
  • demonstrates competence over a period of time
  • demonstrates repeatable competence
  • is the work of the candidate
  • can be verified
  • demonstrates the candidate’s current skills and knowledge
  • does not require language, literacy and numeracy levels beyond those needed for the performance of the competency.

The Portfolio Approach

Just as one size does not fit all with learning styles, neither will a single assessment method always provide the evidence that we need to make a decision about performance across all elements within a competency standard, or across several units of competency.

For this reason, it is common to prepare a range of types of evidence. This is called a portfolio. While we will need to target the contents of each portfolio to the specific context and purpose of the assessment, each will usually include the following:

  • contact details
  • a declaration that the evidence is the candidate’s own work
  • experience gained (work-based experiences)
  • units claimed
  • unit applications (including self-assessment form, cover page for evidence, assessor report form).

The Co-Assessing Approach

We are often better off to involve other people in the assessment event. These might be people who have a better understanding of the work-based knowledge and skills that we are seeking to recognise in our assessment. People who work closer to the “coal-face” are often able to help us see opportunities to assess several competencies in an integrated way.

Commonly, the people who will know the job the best are:

  • the learner themselves
  • supervisors and managers
  • technical and industry specialists
  • other assessors with experience in the area

From our conversations with these people, we might identify opportunities to better integrate the assessment activities. Doing this is a good idea, and for a number of reasons:

  • it gets rid of repetition across assessment activities
  • it tailors assessment so that it is more like what really happens at work
  • it saves everyone’s time



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