We recognise new centres almost every day and those centres often need help getting used to our quality assurance processes.
One area we get a lot of questions about is Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) and, in particular, the sampling that Internal Quality Assurers must carry out. Our centres are often very concerned with enrolling learners and conducting their training. Sometimes requirements can, understandably, fall by the wayside. However, there are quality assurance standards our centres need to maintain in order to keep their TQUK recognised status. So, in order to help clarify the requirements, here are 5 questions all our centres need to ask themselves about IQA and sampling.
1. What’s the IQA there to do?
First things first.
In a nutshell, IQA is a way of maintaining the high standards of your assessment activities. This is done by giving an individual within or associated with a centre the responsibility of maintaining and reporting on those standards. This individual needs to hold an IQA qualification and not be involved in teaching or the assessment of learning. IQAs cannot verify their own assessment decisions – they are there to verify the decisions of other assessors. The IQA ensures that all the qualifications their centre delivers are reliable and valid and that the requirements of national standards have been met.
Much of the IQA’s role involves monitoring the learner’s full learning journey. An IQA should, among other things:
- Plan what will be monitored, from whom and when;
- Observe assessor performance and provide developmental feedback;
- Facilitate the standardisation of assessor practice;
- Support assessors;
- Provide developmental feedback to assessors;
- Confirm or contest assessment decisions when needed.
As you can see, there’s a lot an IQA has to do! Among their many duties, sampling is one of the most important.
2. What is sampling?
Sampling entails reviewing the quality of an assessor’s judgement that they reached about an assessment activity. An IQA reviews that judgement to ensure the assessor considered everything correctly.
An IQA must gather samples of all assessment activities that take place. There are two forms of sampling that can be carried out to ensure quality assurance is maintained.
- Interim sampling: dipping into the learning process whilst the learner is at different stages. This ensures that the assessment of the learner is proceeding in a satisfactory manner.
- Summative sampling: involves the IQA reviewing the quality of the assessment decisions made by the assessor. The IQA should be able to follow an audit trail, which clearly demonstrates that the assessor has checked the validity, authenticity, reliability, currency and sufficiency of the assessment activity. Conducting both interim and summative sampling is strongly encouraged by TQUK.
The IQA must record and report all sampling undertaken in sufficient detail to be able to justify the decision made by the assessor.
In order to sample correctly, an IQA must have a sampling plan.
3. What is my sampling plan?
A sampling plan is a method by which an IQA can make judgements about the quality of assessment activities by evaluating samples from learners and units.
The IQA must complete a sampling plan at the beginning of an assessment programme. A copy of that plan must be submitted to TQUK.
See below for an example of an IQA sampling plan:
As you can see, all assessors are listed along with sampling dates, qualifications, names of the learners and which criteria from which units are being sampled.
When you gather the appropriate data you can conduct all kinds of sampling. There are a few different approaches IQAs can use to sample material:
- Vertical sampling: Sampling one unit or learning outcome across assessors or sites.
- Horizontal sampling: Sampling something from several or all units or learning outcomes from one learner.
- Diagonal sampling: Sampling across units and learners/assessors to get a wider picture of the overall quality of course delivery.
- Thematic sampling: Sampling based on a particular activity.
IQAs can use one or a combination of sampling methods as appropriate, depending on the situation.
All sampling plans should be sent to TQUK when requested as part of the external quality assurance (EQA) sampling process.
4. Is my sampling plan comprehensive enough?
The IQA must sample the full range of assessment methods used for a qualification. It is important that the IQA knows that qualification thoroughly and the range of assessment methods used in order to ensure that enough evidence is gathered to make an appropriate judgement.
The frequency of sampling that must be conducted depends on factors such as:
- the assessor’s general experience;
- the assessor’s experience of the qualification;
- previous actions taken by the assessor that may affect how frequently they should be sampled;
- any updates to qualifications that may affect how the assessor conducts sampling; and/or
- the difficulty of assessment methods.
Newly qualified assessors, assessors new to the centre or assessors who are continually falling short of the standard will require more sampling.
Once all sampling is completed, the results must be included in the IQA report which will be sent to TQUK.
5. Is everything in the IQA report?
Below is a sample of an IQA report:
As you can see, an IQA must detail all the evidence they have reviewed (ie the assessment activities), the assessment criteria sampled, feedback planned and any actions that were taken based on the evidence presented.
Stick the signature of the IQA and the assessor along with the date and you’ll be golden!
(As a general rule of thumb, you should try to provide as much detail as possible. All IQA reports should be sent to TQUK as part of the EQA sampling process.)
If you have any questions regarding IQA or sampling, we’re always happy to help. You can send queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03333 583 344 to speak to someone on the Quality Team. If you are interested in becoming an IQA and need your IQA qualification, you can take the TQUK Level 4 Award in the Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF) at many great TQUK centres all over the UK.
For further reading on IQA subjects, consider reviewing Principles and Practices of Quality Assurance by Ann Gravells. We encourage all IQA learners to read as much material as possible. The more knowledge an IQA has, the better equipped they’ll be to think for themselves, handle unique situations and come to informed and independent judgements.
See you out there!