Ten of the fourteen participating countries sent an assessor and/or representative to the first Assessors Workshop of the European Certification Board for Logistics. Comparing operational approaches is a big help for new participants who are in the middle of establishing their National Certification Board, but also helps the National Certification Boards which have been running the ELA-Certification system for a number of years.
The first part of the workshop was devoted to presentations from ECBL working groups. These groups, composed of members of the ECBL Scientific Committee, have been working for more than two years in three areas: marketing, standardisation and quality assurance.
The achievements of the Standardisation WG and Quality Assurance WG were of special interest to assessors. The Standardisation WG demonstrated the main steps taken in revising standards of competence for logistics. These standards were established by the ELA in the 1990s and, with the rapid development of logistics strategies and techniques, require ongoing verification and updating. This is the role of ECBL as custodian of the Standards. Assessors were informed of the updating process and their comments and views were sought on the matter. The presentation focused on required knowledge, skills and competencies on the Junior, Senior and Master level.
Quality assurance issues are also important for assessors. Some key issues embraced by the self-assessment tool developed by the Quality Assurance WG and implemented for practical use by all national certification bodies, directly relate to assessors, their qualifications and their role in the certification process.
Apart from self-assessment procedures, some other quality issues, such as the building of an ECBL pool of tests, case studies and other examination materials were presented and discussed.
The afternoon session started with a presentation by the invited speaker, Dr Gaby Neumann, junior professor at the University of Magdeburg, who presented her views on the assessment of competences. Dr Neumann referred to the structure of the ELA standards of competence at Junior, Senior and Master levels and discussed approaches to cognitive, performance and portfolio assessment, respectively. She also passed on some of her experiences and achievements in e-supported assessment and gave a broad overview of e-assessment methods and tools.
Dr Neumann’s presentation was a good introduction to the last and the most important part of the workshop – the group work. Divided into two groups, assessors gave presentations on the methods used in their countries for assessment and discussed quality issues resulting from these differing approaches.
The other focus of discussion was a different approach to the assessment of projects, case studies and candidates’ careers. Some aspects of assessment in the case of group work (eg for complex and large projects) were also discussed.
A choice of assessment methods
After the final plenary session, the workshop was concluded by its chief moderator, the ECBL President, Yiannis Konetas from Greece. He stressed that while meeting the same requirements in terms of competence standards, national bodies are free to choose assessment methods for particular levels. Another feature of the system is that candidates take exams in their native languages. This is considered to be one of the strengths of the system, but at the same time means monitoring quality and comparing different certification processes and different assessment methods is important.
The identified problems and challenges will be discussed and resolved during the next Scientific Committee meetings – and the next Assessors Workshop.
The joint dinner, bringing together ECBL assessors and Scientific Committee participants, was not only a well-earned reward for hard work but also an opportunity for further discussions on the ECBL activities.