Understanding UNIT STANDARDS

Understanding UNIT STANDARDS

In this short video we look at understanding Unit Standards.

Links used in this video clip.

SAQA Website: www.saqa.org.za

TRAINYOUCAN Video Blog: www.youcantrain.co.za


See our video online here: http://youtu.be/2raPstZgAS4


A unit standard is a document that describes:

• a coherent and meaningful outcome of learning (title) that we want recognised nationally,
• the smaller more manageable outcomes that make up the main outcome (specific outcomes),
• the standards of performance required as proof of competence (assessment criteria), and
• the scope and contexts within which competence is to be judged

• The title of the unit standard is unique
• That is, the title is different from any other title registered on the NQF.
• The title provides a concise yet comprehensive and pointed indication of the contents of the unit standard.
• The title contains a maximum of 100 characters including spaces and punctuation.


• The level assigned to the unit standard is appropriate in terms of the complexity of learning required to achieve the standard (as described in SAQA’s Level Descriptors).
• The level is appropriate in relation to the learning pathway/s within which the unit standard is located.
Note: Fundamental or Core standards in particular may form part of many different learning pathways.


• The definition of a credit is that 1 credit = 10 notional (assumed) hours of learning.
• The credit assignment reflects the average length of time the average learner might take to complete the learning leading to the achievement of the standard.


• The Fields of Learning have been indicated in Part 3, and the possible sub-fields.
• Unit standards must be located within the sub-field and organising field.
• Where there is more than one sub-field or organising field to which the standard might apply, this must be clearly indicated and justified, either here or in the brief of the SGB that generated the standard.

• The format of entries under the heading Purpose follow on from the statement:

‘Persons credited with this unit standard are able to…’

The Purpose of a unit standard includes its specific outcomes together with a concise statement of the contextualised purpose of the unit standard and what its usage is intended to achieve for:

– the individual
– the field or sub-field
– social and economic transformation

• These entries are phrased as:
Verb + object + modifying phrase(s) (if required)


• There is a clear relationship between the credit value of the standard and the learning assumptions.
• [This is the learning assumed to be in place if the learning required to achieve the standard is to be completed in the assigned credit time]
• The statement captures and reflects the knowledge, skill and understanding ‘building blocks’ which are assumed to be in place and which support the learning towards the achievement of the unit standard under consideration.


• The format of entries under the heading Specific Outcomes follows on from the statement:
Persons credited with this unit standard are able to:
• There are usually between 4 and 6 specific outcomes.
• The specific outcomes together reflect and capture the purpose of the unit standard in ways that are measurable and verifiable.
• The specific outcome statements focus on competence outcomes and avoid describing specific procedures or methods used in the demonstration of competence.
• The specific outcomes avoid evaluative statements where possible


• Where there is a product, the assessable or measurable criteria for the product .
• Where work organisation / work role is critical the assessable or measurable criteria for the way work is carried out.
• The criterion statement sets the guidelines for developing particular
assessment tasks at learning programme or services level rather
than reflecting check lists for one or more assessment instruments.
• The criteria capture the requirements for fair, valid and reliable assessment procedures that make use of tools and methods appropriate to the organising field, sub-field, level, category and the unit standard being registered.
• The assessment criteria capture the underlying and embedded
knowledge base that allows the learner to reflect achievement of the unit standard (through the reflective and repetitive application of that knowledge, skill, ability and value achievement within a range of contexts).
• The assessment criteria must be sufficiently transparent to ensure
ease of understanding across a range of learning providers, learning


• The range statements relate directly to specific outcomes, assessment criteria or even the standard.
Note: Not all specific outcomes or assessment criteria require range statements.
• There must be a clear relationship between range statements, the
specific outcomes, the purpose of the unit standard, and the assessment criteria delineated for the unit standard.


• The format of entries follows on from the statements:
– I/Learners can understand and explain…
– I/Learners can apply…
• Where there is an embedded knowledge section it comprises a statement of the knowledge base required for competent performance and achievement of the unit standard, representing what the learner has to understand and be able to explain in the area (sub-field) at the particular level.
• The embedded knowledge statement includes demonstrations of
knowledge of the classificatory systems operating in the area and at the level of the unit standard.


• Critical Cross-Field Outcomes are in a ‘matrix’ format that indicates how each outcome is addressed in the standard. The matrix captures the relationship of the purpose, specific outcomes, and embedded knowledge to the critical cross-field outcomes.

The Critical Cross-Field Outcomes are the following:
• identifying and solving problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made
• working effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation, community
• organising and managing oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effectively
• collecting, analysing, organising and critically evaluating information
• communicating effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written persuasion

• using science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others
• demonstrating an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
• contributing to the full personal development of each learner and
the social and economic development of the society at large, by making it the underlying intention of any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:
– reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more
– participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national
and global communities;
– being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of
social contexts;
– exploring education and career opportunities;
– developing entrepreneurial opportunities

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