One aim of vocational education is educating students for occupations by fostering the development of students’ capacities to become successful practitioners. During their education students are usually afforded work experience. When this is the case, students learn both at school and at the workplace. Learning at the workplace requires assessment, but this differs from assessment at school because of where (at the workplace), how (through participation) and what students learn (a process of belonging, becoming and being). At the workplace, students are usually assigned an educator who takes on the dual role of educator and assessor. This review takes a sociocultural perspective on learning at the workplace and from this perspective brings together what is already known about how workplace educators assess student performance through a qualitative systematic review. Our analysis aimed for narrative synthesis using iterative thematic analysis. The results depict workplace assessment as manifested in day-to-day work and shaped by relationships. Workplace educators are engaged in a continuous process of assessment-related interactions. They prefer using criteria that are embedded in the norms and values of their vocational community, rather than criteria prescribed by school. Workplace assessment requires negotiated criteria and truly collaborative assessment practices. These practices can be purposefully co-designed and require close communication between school and work. This review shows that assessment of workplace performance in vocational education can be conceptualised as a practice that is shaped by the specific workplace in which it is embedded. From this perspective assessment can be explicated and acknowledged, and as a consequence be further conceptualised and researched in both assessment research and vocational education research.
- Qualitative review
- Workplace learning