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ALPS Assessment Tool - FAQs

A guide to using and understanding the ALPS assessment tools

What are the ALPS assessment tools for?

  • They are designed to guide students through the process of seeking multi-sourced feedback and reflecting on that feedback. This is done to enhance students’ learning experience whilst on placement.
  • They are designed to encourage critical reflective practice and develop self directed learning skills.

Why use them?

  • The assessments should help students to answer the question “How am I doing?” not just from the point of view of their practice assessor, but from others as well, including service users.
  • The assessments are a structured way of gaining feedback from other students; qualified professionals service users and carers. This is good practice for the future, as a qualified practitioner, when reflective practice and CPD become really important.
  • The assessments are student-led; therefore no-one in practice need necessarily remind students to complete them. This can be very empowering for students, as it encourages them to take control of their learning in practice and seek feedback which otherwise they may not have received.

When are the assessments used?

  • The ALPS assessment tools are used whilst students are on placement/work experience.
  • The assessments are particularly useful if the placement experience is away from the student’s own practice assessor, (e.g. on a visit) so that they can receive feedback to discuss on their return to the main placement area.
  • The tools are based on situations which occur commonly in practice. There are 5 scenarios to choose from; Gaining Consent, Demonstrating Respect for a Service User, Providing Information to Colleagues*, Knowing when to Consult or Refer and Working Interprofessionally. The tools can be used whenever one of these situations occurs

So what do students actually do?

  • Students select a situation in which there is an opportunity to seek feedback, i.e. where other people are present (people = other professionals, students and service users or their carers)
  • When starting out with the ALPS assessments, students may find it easier to pick a situation which they handled well. As students gain more experience, they should be encouraged to select situations which are more challenging as there is often greater learning with more challenging situations.
  • There are several sections in each tool; self reflection, *service user (or carer) assessment, peer assessment and qualified professional colleague assessment.  * “Providing Information to colleagues” does not have a section for service user feedback.
  • Within each section there are spaces for comments and some tick boxes. For the self reflection section students are expected to provide a fuller explanation of the scenario and their involvement/activity.
  • At the end of the tools there is an opportunity for action planning in order for the full cycle of learning to take place.

What if all the sections aren’t completed?

  • It doesn’t matter – students probably won’t always be able to complete all sections. Students are only expected to do what is possible in practice. The most important aspects are that the student reflects on their feedback and action plans

How do service users and carers become involved?

  • Students should think carefully about whether it is appropriate to ask the service user or carer for feedback in each situation.  If a student is unsure then this needs to be discussed with a qualified professional. Before the service user or their carer is asked the questions on the assessment, the student must gain their consent. It may be that the student’s practice assessor (or another professional) will do this for them.
  • Some service users and carers may prefer to give feedback anonymously. This can be done by leaving a paper copy of the service user assessment section with them to complete in their own time. They can then return via post or a box left in a prominent place e.g. at reception.

How do they fit in with curriculum requirements?

  • Some assessments clearly provide evidence of specific programme requirements. If this is not the case, then they can simply be used to enhance students’ learning experience whilst on placement, by recording reflective activity.
  • They are formative assessments, not summative, and therefore can be used flexibly within the curriculum. Formative means they are used to learn rather than to pass or fail an assessment. Reflection helps with this learning.

What evidence does it provide for professional requirements?
Completed assessments can provide evidence for a wide variety of situations including, Personal Development Portfolios, reflective essays, personal tutorials, intermediate interviews or observations in practice. The way evidence is used will vary depending on the professional programme. It is always a good idea for the programme or module leader to provide guidelines on how students are expected to use the assessments.

How do I know if they are OK to be used with other professions?

  • They are based on typically occurring activities in the workplace and are common to all health and social care professions.
  • They have been developed across a five-University partnership and involvement of 16 health and social care professions.
  • Because they can be used interprofessionally any profession the student has been working with can provide feedback. This is an important aspect of the ALPS assessment tools, as they will provide a different perspective on working with others.
  • They are not designed for assessing specialist skills which are specific to professions, but are designed for students to gain an understanding of communication, team working and ethical practice.
  • These skills have been mapped out to understand what can be assessed, depending on the level of study. These maps can be found at;

What if the student wants to ask someone else, for example a receptionist?

  • That is absolutely fine as long as they were actually present during the activity being described.

How are they completed?

  • They can be completed electronically or on paper. If they are completed electronically, there will be specific arrangements within the University e-portfolio system for this.
  • It is a good idea for students to receive training on how to complete the tools prior to their placement experience. If the tools are being completed electronically, then this should include training on how to use your chosen software.
  • Students may particularly need guidance on how to complete the self reflection section of the assessment. In order to get the most out of this tool for learning students should be encouraged to explain the “how” and “why” of the situation and not just describe what happened. There are examples of completed tools online for you to look at.

What is the evidence base for using these tools?

  • The evidence indicates that receiving feedback from a variety of sources encourages reflection and the development of sustainable assessment skills which are important for life-long learning;

“Characteristics of effective formative assessment identified by recent research are used to illustrate features of sustainable assessment” (Boud, 2000)

  • One important quality of these tools is that they are formative and not summative, but should not be regarded as any less important.

“-the central purpose of formative assessment is to contribute to students learning through the provision of information of performance” (Yorke, 2003)

  • It is the formative nature which promotes the reflective learning and equips students for future learning

The ALPS assessment tools can be found on;   

BOUD, D. (2000) Sustainable assessment: Re-thinking for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education. 22: (2) 151-167

YORKE, M. (2003) Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice. Higher Education 45: 477-501





Further Information
ALPS Assessment Presentation

ALPS Assessment Demonstration Leaflet

ALPS Annotated Assessment Tool click here to see suggested comments to think about when filling in or marking the ALPS assessment tools