How does authentic assessment relate to the style of teaching and learning?
Authentic assessment requires authentic learning experiences, as expressed so succinctly in the abstract of the article by Robyn Collins (2013), which we shared in our post on Day 2. This approach is based on the concept of “constructivist learning” theory (see our previous Coffee course on Learning Theory). Related concepts are: active learning, situated learning and work-based learning. Where there is no realistic access to an actual work place, use is made of simulations, role plays and case studies.
Do you think authentic assessment is more relevant to formative assessment, summative assessment, or both? What role do you think formative assessment would play in an authentic learning and assessment program? Is there a place for tests and essays in such a program?
Authentic assessment design
We will refer to two useful articles here that provide frameworks for authentic assessment design.
Using a framework to review assessments for authenticity
The literature survey by Ashford Rowe et al (2014) aimed to isolate critical elements for authentic assessment, then developed a framework of 8 principles, to guide the development of authentic assessment (as discussed yesterday). The researchers then applied the framework to review and redevelop an assessment, to test it out with students and then evaluate against the framework.
They then created a table using 8 questions based on the principles to set out how and why the existing assessment needed redevelopment in order to meet the authenticity requirements. The table makes for interesting reading, as does their second, evaluative table after the assessment had been conducted and students surveyed on their experience (please see reference and link under References below).
Here is an excerpt (for the first critical element) from their first table in which they examined their existing assessments:
Proposal for assessment after redesign
|To what extent does the assessment activity challenge the assessed student?||Requires the student to answer non-applied theory questions as a test of memory||Will require students to apply the theoretical content in practice||The intention was to increase the degree of challenge on the student by expecting them to apply what they had learnt in theory to achieve an applicable outcome.|
Choose one of your assessments that is more traditional and then, select one or two of the 8 critical elements and use it to create a question/s and a proposal for a more authentic assessment, that addresses the question/s, like the example shown above. The example above provides a very general statement as to the proposed change, and you are encouraged to say something a little more specific about your assessment if you wish, when sharing. For example, you might say something like “will require the student to come up with a project plan”.
To help you with this activity, you might like to first re-think your assessment and the relevant teaching and learning activities, using the following questions:
- What is your course/teaching activity?
- What is the authentic context that your students would be working in?
- What sorts of activities or skills are needed in that authentic context?
- Do the learning outcomes reflect the authentic context – if not, try re-writing the relevant learning outcome/s
- What assessment would be useful to see if students have those skills?
Share any insights you gained from trying this activity, with others here.
Ensuring graduate outcomes and the professional context are reflected in the assessment
In another article, Villaroel et al (2018) identified through a literature review, three dimensions representing “the essence” of authentic assessment: (1) Realism, (2) Cognitive Challenge and (4) Evaluative judgment.
The authors develop a four-step blueprint, using these dimensions, for devising authentic assessments that translate them into the Higher Education sector. This involves the teacher in considering the graduate outcome requirements for their program, their knowledge of work requirements in the field, creating a meaningful task based on this, co-creating assessment criteria with students (or at least involving them in discussions about the criteria), and providing both formative and summative feedback that is useful and sustainable to students.
Take a look at the graduate outcomes for the program in which you teach, and also consider the type of work context for which you might be preparing the program’s students. Does this help to inform your thinking about creating authentic assessments at the course level?
Villaroel et al, (2018), p. 847
In considering implementing a more authentic approach to your assessment, you are possibly already presented with issues and difficulties. For example, how easy is it to obtain this professional or industry exposure for undergraduate students? What private companies would be willing to collaborate with a university course and its students in this way? We are going to be examining more closely issues and dilemmas that authentic assessment may imply, in some contexts, in the coming days.
Looking at the above example, and thinking about your own context, what problems and issues would you foresee in designing authentic assessments that reflect the graduate workplace?
Ashford-Rowe, Kevin, Herrington, Janice & Brown, Christine (2014) “Establishing the critical elements that determine authentic assessment,” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39:2, 205-222, https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.819566
Collins, Robyn, 2013, “Authentic assessment: assessment for learning” in Curriculum and Leadership Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 7, May 2013. http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/authentic_assessment_assessment_for_learning,36251.html?issueID=12745
Villarroel, Veronica, Bloxham, Susan, Bruna, Danila, Bruna, Carola, & Herrera-Seda, Constanza (2018) “Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design,” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43:5, 840-854, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396 https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396