Quality Assurance in Assessment
Donegal ETB has a shared vision for teaching and learning as outlined in its Statement of Strategy.
Donegal ETB delivers QQI programmes leading to major awards under the Common Awards System (CAS), as well as delivering a number of non-QQI awards, such as City & Guilds, ITEC/VTCT, CompTIA, Accounting Technicians Ireland, Microsoft, ICS Skills and others.
QQI Assessment Processes
Students are provided with briefs appropriate to the NFQ level for all assessments they are asked to undertake. These include details of the assessment task at hand, criteria and marking schemes, and deadlines where appropriate. It is the student’s responsibility to complete assessments and demonstrate their achievement of learning. All students are expected to sign statements of authenticity with respect to their assessments. Formative and summative feedback, which occurs during and after assessment tasks, are crucial elements of effective teaching and learning within Donegal ETB.
The integrity of assessment processes is monitored through the Internal Verification and External Authentication Processes, and approved by the Certification Approval Board.
Internal verification (IV) procedures check that assessments have been undertaken in a quality-assured fashion; the appropriate assessment instruments have been used, student details and results correctly entered, and for a sample of students, marks are checked.
The External Authentication (EA) system is a core element of ensuring the quality and integrity of the assessment processes. It is the role of the External Authenticator to review the IV report to ensure that assessment has been undertaken in a quality assured manner, to review the students’ assessments to ensure that they have been assessed in a fair and consistent manner, and to authenticate that the grades given are in line with the national standards for that level. Donegal ETB operates a directory of External Authenticators selected from the ETBI directory of EAs.
Oversight of the assessment process is provided within the QA Governance and Management structure by the Certification Approval Board (CAB) and the Quality Council (QC). Reports detailing the outcomes from the Internal Verification and External Authentication processes, as well as grade outcomes, are considered at a CAB meeting before the approval of results. A summary report is developed by the Training Standard Officers on behalf of the CAB. This is then presented to the Quality Council.
The FET service’s robust assessment processes outlined above facilitate the fair and consistent assessment of students and support academic decision-making which reflects the interests of students and the maintenance of standards.
Students have the right to appeal their results should they not agree with the assessment judgement that has been made. Students may have their assessment scripts reviewed by appeals assessors who are independent of Donegal ETB. In the event that their appeal is upheld, Donegal ETB informs the relevant awarding body of the amended grade.
Our FET Service is committed to the integrity of assessment and recognises that responsibility for the integrity of the assessment process lies with both staff and students. This area has been identified as a priority for the development of revised integrated policies and procedures in line with the QQI Core Statutory QA Guidelines. Significant progress has been made and a draft integrated Fair and Consistent Assessment of Learners policy has been developed with a range of procedures in progress as part of the integrated QA system.
Quality Assuring the Student Journey
For detailed information regarding policies and procedures relating to the learning experience in a particular centre please contact the centre directly. As new policies and procedures are developed that are common to all Donegal ETB centres, they will be published here.
Becoming a student with Donegal ETB: our admissions processes
Donegal ETB has developed an Access, Transfer and Progression policy which is common to all of its FET services and centres.
Typically, prospective students attend an interview to assess their suitability for the course for which they are applying. The admissions interview is usually conducted by the course coordinator and supplemented by the guidance and recruitment service. The purpose of the interview is to assess whether the student meets the entry criteria for the course where these exist, or to facilitate the student to find the course most suitable for their needs. Other course-specific information is given to students upon entry to the course.
It is expected that any students seeking to access a particular course would have the knowledge, skills and competencies at the level of the National Framework of Qualifications www.nfq-qqi.ie indicated in the prospectus for access to that programme. Where the student does not have a major award at the level indicated for access, life skills or work experience may be taken into account, as long as the student possesses the skills which would be required to allow them to participate successfully in the course. It is the responsibility of the course coordinator or other identified staff member to determine that a prospective student has the knowledge, skill and competence to successfully participate on the course.
Please contact the centre directly for further information about its admissions procedures and course-specific admissions requirements.
Donegal ETB does not currently have agreed quality-assured processes to support access to a programme through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). However, students can be exempted from certain programme/course modules if they possess accredited prior learning and records of such.
On starting a course in Donegal ETB, students have an induction session(s) in which they receive general information about the centre, as well as course-specific information such as modules to be covered, the course calendar and timetable, assessments and assessment deadlines. A FET programme specific student handbook outlines attendance policies and procedures, assessment policies and procedures, supports available to students, student code of conduct and expected behaviour, complaints procedure and other relevant information.
The Learning Experience and the Environment
Donegal ETB’s FET Service is committed to teaching and learning that is student-centred, flexible, and inclusive, in accordance with the ethos and values of the organisation.
Students on a course will be respected and treated in an equitable manner, in line with Donegal ETB’s commitment to equality. Centres organise activities to support a positive learning environment through activities such as field trips or guest speakers.
Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)
Donegal ETB is committed to providing an ongoing and enhanced investment in technology-enhanced learning to support innovative teaching and learning practices. Actions include supporting the creation and sharing of digital resources for use in the classroom, use of virtual learning environments (VLEs) to support the learning experience, building staff capacity through CPD, expanding the ICT infrastructure and developing TEL Communities of Practice and networks.
Quality Assuring Work Experience and Work Placement
At Donegal ETB we believe that work experience is a valuable part of the learning experience, allowing students to get a taste of the realities of working in their chosen career. Therefore, most courses leading to a major award include a Work Experience or Work Practice module with a compulsory work placement.
Donegal ETB is committed to ensuring that the work-based learning environments that students experience as part of their work placements are appropriate.
Where students have complaints, they are expected, in the first instance, to address them with the staff member concerned. If still unsatisfied, they may take their concerns to the course coordinator, and thereafter may appeal to the FET Senior Management Team.
Donegal ETB has an assessment appeals policy in place and students are informed of the procedure for appealing an assessment result during induction.
Where students have complaints of a non-academic nature that are escalated to ETB-level, these are handled by the Donegal ETB’s Corporate Services Department
Giving Feedback on the Learning Experience
Student feedback is an essential element to the life cycle of a course within Donegal ETB. Feedback is sought for most courses through mid-term and end-of-term evaluations, and the information gathered can be used to address issues arising throughout the course. It also informs future iterations of the course (e.g. with respect to module choice etc.), as well as new course development. In addition, students can raise any concerns or feedback they may have about the course with either the course teacher, tutor or instructor, or course coordinator at any time between the formal feedback opportunities.
The first Donegal ETB FET Service Student Voice Forum was introduced in February 2020 as a means of collecting and collating feedback from students across the service. This has become established as an annual event, used to inform the self-evaluation, monitoring and review process. Reports for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Student Voice Annual Events can be found here:
Supports available to students on Donegal ETB programmes may be accessed through guidance counsellors, support workers, FET centre managers, programme coordinators, teachers, tutors or instructors.
In autumn of 2023, we launched the FET Student Hub and developed the FET Student Handbook. These two resources serve as a one-stop shop containing all the information a prospective or current FET student might need before or during their course. They were developed by the FET Quality Assurance staff as a direct response to feedback from FET students who had requested a central resource where all the information relevant to them could be collected in one place and easily navigated.
The Adult Guidance and Information Service offers impartial and confidential information, advice, guidance and counselling on the educational options that are available both within Donegal ETB and with other education providers.
Recently the Student Supports and Welfare group has been formed to oversee and steer the development and provision of student supports, student welfare protocols and social inclusion measures within Donegal ETB’s FET Service.
Guidance for Students
Guidance is available, where feasible, to students with respect to progression opportunities. Within the Adult Education Service, the Adult Guidance and Information Service provides support and guidance to students on a range of programmes. In further education colleges and centres, guidance counsellors may be available to advise students. In other FET centres, course coordinators or teachers offer similar support if possible. In Youthreach centres, dedicated guidance staff, known as Advocates, provide individual career path planning and guidance.
Care for Learners
Within each centre, and for each course, a designated person, such as the course coordinator, guidance counsellor, student advisor, course tutor, assistant manager or other named person will be available to address any concerns of an academic nature that the student may have.
Academic writing can be very rewarding but it can also present a real challenge. It is recommended that students on Donegal ETB programmes make use of the Academic Writing Handbook and the Referencing Handbook.