Assessment and Feedback

Day 5: Wider issues in authentic assessment

University building

On our final day, we will take a look at some of the conundrums and controversies related to authentic assessment.  These can be roughly grouped into three topics – questions of validity and reliability, questions of barriers to adopting authentic assessment in Higher Education, and wider global political and philosophical issues relating to the purpose of Higher Education and universities as institutions.  

 

Choose a controversy!

These topics are very complex and we realise the 15 minutes may be a bit of an ask for this page!  You are welcome to skim through, concentrate on the controversy topic that interests you most,  and to explore the references and links later in your own time.  In addition, rather than trying to address all discussion questions, choose the one you are most interested in, to comment on.  Of course if you are keen and have the time, feel free to explore all three!

Controversy 1:  Questions of validity and reliability

Validity and reliability have long been mainstays of “good assessment” at all levels of education, based on a positivist, statistical approach that values standardisation.  This has resulted in a tendency to use objective testing such as multiple choice, or supervised examinations with formulaic tasks that are marked against rubrics by people who do not know the students.  However this type of rigorous control results in assessments that lack authenticity and therefore validity of a different nature. The idiosyncrasies of individual response to a task and the faithfulness of an assessment to real life conditions are now also valued.  (See Hathcoat et al, 2016, and Wiggins, 1993).

The newly evolved push for authentic assessments requires criterion-referenced grading rather than norm-referenced grading, since the assessment has to be true to a complex, work-like task, not to an abstract statistical norm.  The continued practice in some universities of using norm-referenced methods of assessment and grading for administration and funding purposes are in opposition to the trend towards making assessments more authentic.

The concern that authentic assessments are not being held to the “same high standards of reliability and validity” as traditional assessments (Hathcoat et al,  2016 p. 16) can be countered with the idea that without authenticity, the validity of an assessment can be challenged also.  Other standards are considered important to authentic assessment, such as transparency, effective rubrics and close alignment with course outcomes and professional standards. In addition, authentic assessments require many instances of assessment in a holistic process over time, and is not suited to one high stakes assessment event.

question markDiscussion

What are your thoughts on the issues of “validity and reliability” in authentic assessment?  Is it realistic to expect statistically derived concepts to be applied to assessments comprising messy, ill-defined tasks that mirror the professional or work environment?  What about areas such as medicine, where standard procedures are used routinely and must be learned thoroughly or lives will be at risk?  How should competency with such procedures be tested?  Does the need for authentic assessment prevent the use of objective, standardised tests for certain purposes?

 

barbed wire fenceControversy 2:  Systemic barriers to the adoption of authentic assessment

The  move to authentic assessment in the Higher Education sector is part of a rapid succession of changes to traditional university education due to technological developments and globalisation.  Not all universities are ready for this change.

One of the systemic issues identified by Boud and Falchikov (2005), is the dominance of summative assessment concerns within universities. The quality and consistency of assessments for the sifting out of successful and unsuccessful graduates is a preoccupation of university administrations and external bodies such as professional associations. For them, processes such as this comprise signifiers of accountability and transparency as well as of quality. Related to this issue, Boud and Falchikov also identified a persistent use of traditional norm-referenced assessment grading, a system that makes authentic assessment difficult to grade, instead of criterion-referenced grading. 

Other barriers are around the issue that university staffing and resources may not always be sufficient to meet the demands of providing authentic assessment environments, contexts and processes. (See Jackson et al reference below for a discussion about difficulties in obtaining Work Integrated Learning placements, for example). It seems that it is often the case that neither professions/industry, nor universities as institutions, are ready for well-designed authentic assessment activities that have students engaged with the professional communities for whom they are being trained.  

question markDiscussion

Have you encountered any of these barriers?  Have you been able to find work-arounds? Bearing in mind that some theorists insist that authentic assessment can approximate, rather than exactly replicate, a real life task, can you think of ways to assess authentically in spite of these systemic barriers?

 

sign saying Meaning of LIfeControversy 3:  What is the purpose of Higher Education and the institution of the university, anyway?

Authentic assessment as an approach has been explored and adopted since the 1990s partly as a result of the growing concern about the employability of graduates.  University courses have become more vocationally oriented and also commercialised, or some might say “commodified.”  The view of the student as customer purchasing their learning and qualifications has resulted in student expectations that the outcome of completing a course is that of  being employable, as the main return on investment. The controversy around this is summed up by Kinash et al (2018):

“While graduate employability is the dominant discourse, the literature is replete with debate about whether the purpose/s of higher education are vocational training, career development, economic growth, global competitiveness and/or personal development, knowledge capital, research and critical perspectives.” (Kinash et al, 2018, p. )  

Universities are now operating in a market economy, competing with each other, and often ranked according to employment outcomes. Those who do not agree with this agenda value a Higher Education that is aiming at personal development, knowledge building, critical perspectives and research achievements.  A social critique is that market based models of Higher Education leave people out, with a university education available to the few who can afford fees and internships, and the individual blamed for failure when it could be a market failure (Kinash et al, 2018, p. ).  However those who favour a more vocational approach to Higher Education would argue the opposite, that focusing on narrow academic and research endeavours will result in an elitist system that deprives the general population of a higher education.  No doubt the answer is somewhere in between!

question markDiscussion

Where do we strike a balance between academic scholarship and research on the one hand, and on the other hand, employability and readiness for work, in assessment and learning within higher education?  Does one necessarily count out the other or do they go together?  Share your thoughts on this question or anything else you would like to discuss.

 

References

Boud, David & Falchikov, Nancy (2005), “Redesigning assessment for learning beyond higher education” in Higher Education in a Changing World, Herdsa 2005 Conference Proceedings.  http://conference.herdsa.org.au/2005/pdf/refereed/paper_398.pdf 

Groves, Nancy, (2012) “Authentic Assessment – what does it mean for staff, students and sector?” In Guardian (education feature) 2012   https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2012/oct/24/authentic-assessment-university-teaching-learning 

Hathcoat, J. D., Penn, J. D., Barnes, L. L., B., & Comer, J. C. (2016). “A second dystopia in education: Validity issues in authentic assessment practices.” Research in Higher Education57(7), 892-912. doi:  http://dx.doi.org.virtual.anu.edu.au/10.1007/s11162-016-9407-1  

Jackson, Denise; Rowbottom, David;  Ferns, Sonia &  McLaren, Diane (2017) Employer understanding of Work-Integrated Learning and the challenges of engaging in work placement opportunities, Studies in Continuing Education, 39:1, 35-51, DOI:10.1080/0158037X.2016.1228624

Kinesh, Shelley, McGillivray, Laura, Crane, Linda (2087) ” Do University students, alumni, educators and employers link assessment and graduate employability?”  in Higher Education Research and Development, Vol 37, No. 2, pp. 301-315  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07294360.2017.1370439 

McAlister, B. K., Custer R. L., Schell, J., Scott, J. S., & Hoepfl, M. (2000) Using Authentic Assessment  in Vocational Education:  ERIC Monograph  (Information Series No. 381).  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234753168_Using_Authentic_Assessment_in_Vocational_Education_Information_Series_No_381

McDermott, Roger, Zarb, Mark, Daniels, Mats, Nylen, Aletta, Pears, Arnold;  Isomöttönen, (2017):  “The authenticity of “authentic” assessment some faculty perceptions” in 2017 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference Proceedings  Indianapolis, USA  https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8190604

27 thoughts on “Day 5: Wider issues in authentic assessment

  1. I really like today’s posts – lots of interesting questions to discuss.

    I think the first and last questions are linked. Validity of assessment in the workplace is certainly not as strong as what educational assessments should be. Yet we all live with it. Often times when given a performance review, a manager is asked to give a score from 0-5 or 0-10 on their subordinates. This is very subjective and influenced by whether they like you, how they are feeling that morning, etc. Yet we all live with it. Research shows even if you give people objective performance measures, their feelings towards a person based on non performance factors influence the scores they give. But if this is good enough for work which the authentic assessment is supposed to prepare them for, then it should be ok for us too – if thats our goal.

    Which raises the question of what uni is for. That’s a much harder question. As a generalisation, the students and government think unis are about training people for work. Uni’s often have KPI’s targetted at research. What are we really here to do? One thing to note is, even though we can train people for work, I would suggest that for many jobs, an organization full of industry people with teaching qualifications/training would be better than academics who may have limited/no experience and no teaching training/qualifications or interest in doing good teaching (which is probably NOT anybody reading this).

    1. Hi David, thanks for your comments on these very interesting and “wicked” issues. Indeed, “what are we really here to do?” is a critical question for anyone taking their role in Higher Education seriously! And it is one asked in a shifting field, where values and priorities change quickly. I think you make excellent points about subjectivity of assessment both in the workplace and in education. I suspect that strong frameworks of professional/industry standards and the use of criterion-based assessment provides safeguards against subjectivity taking over, and also provides a means of ensuring accountability in making assessment decisions. I am very interested to hear what others think!

    2. David, the subjective nature of assessment is constant challenge. This semester I am asking students to not put their names on the assignments they submit, so these can be marked anonymously.

      As you say, students and government, have the view that universities are for training people for work. They are providing the money, so that must be correct. 😉

      Some years ago I visited University of Cambridge, and discovered that even at this prestigious research university, much of the discussion was around money. Since the days of Newton, the university had been commercializing its research output. The result was a lot of money to do research. They also had close associations with industry, and no hangups about working with industry people, providing they had good ideas, or money, or both.
      As you suggest people with industry experience, and educational expertise, are useful for teaching students. But I suggest a mix with research orientated academics is also useful. In practice it is rare a staff member is purely one or the other. I am at the industry/education end of the mix, but work alongside research oriented academics in teaching students. There is conflict at times: they think I am trivializing their research, and I think they don’t know how to teach useful stuff, but we come to a reasonable compromise, usually. 😉

  2. Statistical measures don’t really apply to the small numbers of students we typically have in a class at an Australian university. In any case, each student needs to be assessed on their merits, and the public protected from students who are not competent to practice a profession. The idea that a student would be failed, or passed, to fit a bell curve is unacceptable.

    Staffing is an issue I was confronted with some years ago, when the chair of the local chapter of my professional body. Two students got up at a meeting and said their university did not have any qualified lecturers to teach them. I made an appointment with the dean, and told them if they did not hire someone to teach the students, the university’s accreditation would be canceled. The university hired new staff shortly after.

    The idea that universities were traditionally just about research is nonsense. From their earliest days universities have been about both research, and vocational training. Australia’s first university, University of Sydney, was founded to provide professionals for the colony, as well as conduct research.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your thoughtful replies. Regarding the bell curve, strangely enough many universities, including some courses at ANU, still insist on using norm-based calculations for final grades – more for administrative and funding convenience than for true assessment purposes. This definitely needs further discussion within the HE sector, as to why this practice persists and how it can be phased out.

      Your assertion that universities have never been totally research based since earliest times is interesting. Were early universities just a part of a medieval market place? Even the word “vocation” would suggest far more than just a set of practical skills – early universities, from what I have read, were very much about life time vocations. I would like to read up on this some more!

    2. Tom – I’ve been asked to make classes of 10 and 20 fit a standard curve because Maths Is Bendy, and we must not enrage the god of bell curves.

      Accreditation and ongoing professional development for teaching staff is a real pain. I’d love to meet the School Director / head of school who’d put 10% of workload into professional skill development, and prioritise accreditation standards, professional upskilling, and staying contemporary over an unread/unreadable paper in a nicely A/A* journal.

      Maybe we should lobby for trade skill registration requirements to be part of workload?

  3. Validity and reliability are always referred to in tandem, which is unhelpful as they represent two different spectra. Validity is more often a judgement of the suitability of the assessment to measure learning and reliability is usually assumed to be repeatability, which in a narrow sense it is. Authentic assessment can be both valid and reliable, but it may not always be absolutely repeatable. I’m sure there are teachers that would like to teach the same sorts of students every year, and paramedics and doctors who prefer “standard” patients.
    Could we infer from the above think piece that “standard” assessments would be highly valid and reliable but possibly of low authenticity. whereas in fact a mixed economy is preferable, I would like to hope that teachers and surgeons get a lot of practice in before being let loose on real students and patients. Similarly, how authentic are flight simulators – a far better approach than walking out to the runway, picking a plane and having a go (having of course read the manual first) – what could go wrong!

    1. Hi Richard, thanks, you have provided a nice clarification of the concepts of validity and reliability. I think that authentic assessments don’t have to imply working on “real” people or risky activities until the student has reached a certain level of skill and knowledge – your example of a flight simulator would surely meet the criteria for authenticity. Medical school students these days often get exposed to augmented reality, where they can examine a virtual client who is a hologram, or even possibly just a voice or a cartoon character. This can be seen also as simulated reality, which is regarded as authentic assessment. I guess in the area where you are working, ie the Law College, the Moot Court activities are authentic tests of the legal student’s court room skills – would you agree?

    2. Yes – it’s important to disentangle these things. Validity in educational assessment now includes things such as the ideologies underpinning assessment tasks and the consequences of them (e.g. are students learning anything as a result?).

  4. What is the purpose of Higher Education? I think there is still a strong influence of the Humboldtian ideals emerging from Berlin in the early 19th century. Self-determination, Weltbürgertum to an extent, and the whole idea of education as a common good.

  5. Hi Jill
    Our Moots are pretty authentic simulations, but the problem with simulations is that usually all of the variables are controlled, so whilst I think simulations are an excellent learning tool, they still reach a point where they are more authentic but not fully authentic, even with VR. That doesn’t in any way diminish a simulation as a learning experience though, but I think there needs to be a recognition of the limits to its authenticity. I frequently see simulations offered as an alternative to WIL which is a bit of a stretch in my opinion

    1. Hi Richard, interesting point. I guess the whole idea of it being an assessment within a course, and not a real life task, is that we can control variables to make it as close or as distant as we want from the “real thing” – particularly in risky situations. I am not sure how we would go about assessing an assessment for its authenticity – although the five criteria provided by Ashford Rowe et al might be a start.

      1. Hi Jill, I think for me of the list of criteria in that paper (the 2014 one?) it is the metacognitive component that limits the authenticity of simulations unless there are decent opportunities for self evaluation and reflection, and possibly even a few more of those tricky non-behavioural outcomes that we always seem to avoid when writing learning outcomes. I suppose I am questioning the extent to which simulations can build in sufficient emotional learning opportunities.

        1. Thanks for pointing that out Richard – in the Ashford-Rowe et al article as well as other publications reflection and self-evaluation are definitely part of the requirements for authentic assessment – but I am not sure what you mean when you say it “limits the authenticity?” I definitely agree that there has to be genuine reflection and self-evaluation built in, if you go by the criteria in the article.

  6. I did have to Google those terms, Richard 🙂 Holistic and cosmopolitan were the corresponding English concepts I could glean from my search. Yes, I think these are still strong ideals among many in Higher Education, but is there a shift happening that might work against these ideals, when education has become in many respects a global commodity and Higher Education a world-wide competitive market? I am wondering what others might think.

  7. Hi Jill, sorry wasn’t trying to be obscure its just one of those words like Mensch which only translates into a sentence rather than a direct English equivalent. I gained no schadenfreude from your need to google!

  8. I think it’s important to keep in minds that there is no “one right pathway” for all university education. I don’t think it’s a matter of all authentic vs all traditional, or all vocational vs all research. Each student will react to the assessment tasks in different ways and by presenting them with a multitude of different approaches to learning over the course of their degree it might help them decide to further explore research pathways or vocational pathways. That said, while I do think it’s important to have a variety of teaching experiences, I also recognize that there are certain situations which necessitate one style over another. For example, in my first semester of my undergraduate degree, my first physics course consisted of ~250 students, while simultaneously in my first music composition course there was 5 of us. In physics, I had a multitude of tutors, demonstrators, and lecturers who would teach us the course material, so the person of reference was constantly shifting and I imagine that it was difficult to tailor a task or remember who I was come marking time. Whereas in music I had one-on-one lessons with my lecturer from the second week and thus there was more of a chance for my music professors to take an individualized approach with the learning and assessment tasks. I could discuss with my music professors what interested me about the subjects, and they could offer tailored advice on what I should study more, or focus on, or what future pathways might be of interest to me because they were familiar with my work and personality. This was a great experience, however, I was unable to replicate this in my science degree until my postgraduate studies.

    From the information we have been given in this past week, it seems to me that authentic assessment tasks require a more hands-on individualized effort from the lecturers and tutors. This means to me that these tasks should be reserved for smaller class sizes, where the teacher is available to have more interaction with the students as a guide throughout the tasks. I’m not saying that they don’t have place in larger science courses, quite the opposite I think more authentic assessment is needed to showcase how to best utilize the skill we learn in uni in the vocational realm, however I think that it will require a reshuffling of the current curriculum and an even more creative approach to the implementation of authentic assessment tasks.

    I’ve had a great time reading, learning, and discussing authentic assessment this past week and I’ll definitely be keeping it all in mind for the future. Thanks Jill, Katie, and Amanda for all your hard work in organizing this course!

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for your positive feedback!

      And thanks for those great comments and examples that remind us that “one size doesn’t fit all!” I agree with you that for larger groups we need to think “outside the box” and become creative if we were to aim for authentic assessment. We won’t come up with solutions overnight, but I think that posing the difficult questions in forums like this, and sharing our ideas, all helps to stimulate our brains and could lead to new and wonderful things happening 🙂

    2. I agree, Sarah, that we really need to be balanced and critical about authentic assessment, just as we should be about other more reliable and ‘objective’ methods. This is especially the case in larger courses where the time constraints can actually make the assessment of more contextualized, authentic tasks a bit sloppy. As a student, I would much rather a well-designed standardized task than an authentic one if I thought the teacher wasn’t going to be able to read/view the authentic task properly.

  9. As employers demand higher minimum standards from society, universities have changed from being research focused to taking on an increasingly vocational role. Where people used to be able to get jobs straight out of high school, we are approaching an era where you need a Masters degree to be competitive for entry-level positions.

    When this shift first started, many Australian universities differentiated between their teaching- and research-focused academics, often having separate teaching faculties and research schools. In recent decades, there has been a push to merge the two. I believe this is the cause of much of higher ed’s bi-polarity. As David mentioned, some academics are better suited to teaching than research, and vice-versa.

    I think the balance lies in the different types of degrees we offer. Undergrad degrees have a greater focus on employability, while postgraduate degrees, premised on the assumption that students already have knowledge (and experience) in that field, focus on scholarly development and research. That is not to say that we can’t offer a research-oriented undergrad degree, or an employment-driven graduate degree. Indeed, where there is a demand, I have not doubt that someone will offer precisely these options. There will necessarily be overlap between the two, however, recognising and approaching both as different creatures might help with the balancing act.

  10. Given we are talking about controversies my post today is going back to the conversation article that was posted in the first day, and something I found quite aggravating. “Today, it’s different. Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have neither the time nor budget to train graduates….. At the other end, big businesses hire fewer fresh graduates. For example, where large numbers of accounting or law graduates used to build on their skills and gain experience through preparing accounts or contracts, most of this is now automated and employers want graduates to have that experience already.” At what point did universities start subsidizing profit making businesses?!?! I think it’s an interesting lense to consider our belief in the need for authentic assessment. I am a full supporter of authentic assessment as a way to engage students, lend meaning to content and offer ways to integrate softer skills such as team work with more technical skills or knowledge. However the idea that universities can or should be replacing on the job training is deeply flawed. Obviously, there are particular professions where this makes sense and there are centralised professional standards. But the plethora of roles and industries combined with an ever-shifting series of company cultures, political contexts and business needs means that it is completely unrealistic that universities can provide a type of training that can replace on the job learning. And we are potentially going down a dangerous path if we seek to channel all of our curriculums into this model.

  11. I think it’s a really great point to consider with university education, “why we here?” And, “what’s the point?”
    Even in the more vocational degrees such as medicine we are also encouraged to learn and develop in a vocational direction – clinical examinations, placements and OSCEs, but also at the same time encouraged to have more academic pursuits – research projects, journal clubs, traditional lectures. So university need not always be dichotomous and perhaps a mix of assessment also helps with a spectrum of both student and educator goals within a course. There are always a range of students with a wide array of vocational and academic goals within every course.

    I spent much of undergraduate wishing I was onto the more vocational learning, and then sometimes spend time in medicine wishing that people didn’t just just stop asking (and answering) questions for the sake of thinking the knowledge won’t be important to them clinically (or on our exams…)…. So perhaps a mix is always best!

  12. I wrote this comment twice before but I can’t upload it, so I will try again but reducing the post, unfortunately.

    In a nutshell, I will comment on the three issues.
    First, I reckon that the idea that only traditional assessments will provide reliable results is not correct. The tendency of looking at final grades and statistics to assess student performance should be replace for a more informative way of assess their learning ways. In this sense, authentic assessment such as real-life tasks, poster or conference simulations and professional reports seem an easier and more accurate way to assess students learning and performance, as well as readiness for their working life.

    Second, the main barriers I encountered when trying to design new assessments were economic and administrative. In some cases, new assessment imply field trips or additional resources for poster printing, excavation tasks, professionals as guest lecturers..which are extra payment that students or the college have to cover, and many times this money is not available. Additionally, redesigning an assessment may imply filling up several forms, waiting for HoS/college/dean approval, etc. That could put people off trying to innovate, as the administrative load required for these changes may be quite heavy.

    Finally, I reckon that the main goal of university should be to disseminate knowledge and create good citizens. However, in our current days, this utopia has been turned into considering universities as a business, where students spend 4 to 6 years of their life and they become a number in an annual statistics, while they don’t apply their knowledge for any aspect of their working lief. I still belief that universities should be, in addition to teach
    and prepare new generations for their working life, a place of discussion and experimentation. And I reckon the implementation of authentic assessments would be a great manner to promote discussion, interaction among students and academics, and teaching life-based skills.

    I want to conclude saying that I really enjoyed this course and the resources provided to learn more about the topic. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sofia, sorry to hear you had some trouble with your posting – we are investigating the Captcha issue that you need to fill it when you submit a comment. (We need it to keep out the endless spam comments!)

      Your closing comments about the role of university is something I wanted to connect to – the idea that authentic assessment can help universities find their place in society and preparing students to go out into the world. The teaching of life skills is an area that is essential for working as a professional but often not included in traditional curricula. Something to think about!

      And I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed this course! 🙂 We have loved having you!

  13. I would like to add my two cents to the 3rd Controversy: What is the purpose of HE and the universities. Starting on the research side of university life, I was always amazed when management, school directors, deans…emphasised that the most important aspect of our presence at the university is research. I thought universities = higher EDUCATION institutes, therefore their primary role is to educate, train future academics and professionals. Looking at the KPIs and promotion guidelines, it became clear that the university (not just ANU) rewards good researchers, high publication and grant raising track records, while teaching/training did not have as much weight in professional progression. Consequently, many researchers tried to do the minimum required in teaching so that they can concentrate on their research output, or ‘teaching’ was taking on the form of research training (Honours sometimes, and mainly HDR students). Undergraduate teaching (at least in science) was preparing students for academia, and nothing much else.
    That started to change when the market changed, as it was discussed above, and students no longer attended university for academic gains but to be employed after graduation. As unis were prepared for academic teaching, they struggled with vocational training as the staff did not necessarily have the relevant practical knowledge and industry experience. I know that this trend of changing universities into vocational training facilities is present in other countries and continents, it frankly saddens me. I fully agree with Edwina and Sofia, when they find the new role universities are forced into aggravating.
    If a student, fresh out of high school knows what he/she wants to do, they can enter into a vocational training program. We have excellent tertiary institutes of TAFE and CIT, which offer such training, their academics come from the industry and the institute has strong industry links which allow for placements and authentic assessment in the field. So, then what is the difference between study at the university and other tertiary institutes? Is it supposed to be that universities are for high-achieving students, with good HSC marks, to be trained for ‘higher level’ vocations or that universities provide more than just vocation training to develop skills in students beyond one vocation? Another question is, what happens with those students who are interested in further studies, but have no idea where they want to go after their education was complete. Do we force them to choose and then keep them on one track even if that might not be the right direction for them?
    Wouldn’t it be great to be in an education environment, where you could engage with and explore a variety of disciplines, gain a variety of skills that can be useful in any future endeavours, and to develop into good citizens and leaders. One way to provide a wide skill-base to university students to have more general program that encompass multiple disciplines (the arts, science, business, ….) to focus on skill building and basic concepts. Students can then make educated decisions on which direction they want to take and in the latter years can take specific routes according their choice – academia, research, education or other specialities. That would make good use the excellent knowledge and skill-base of the university staff and prepare students to their specialist training.

  14. Before I touch upon a controversy, I want to highlight a couple of sentences that I read in Using Authentic Assessment  in Vocational Education (see reference list). Because they gave me comfort, and hope they will do the same for you 🙂 Here they are:
    “[Research] suggest[s] that the concept of authenticity is relative and exists along a continuum. (…) our goal as educators should be to start to move instruction toward the more authentic end of this continuum.”

    Next, the controversy of my choosing: questions of validity. I agree that criterion-referenced grading* enables more authentic assessment. And in my field, language teaching, we have the tools to do this. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is one that I am very familiar with and find quite excellent. Having only taught in Europe, I am curious to find out what frameworks Australian language teachers use!

    *@Coffee Course team, I would have loved to have read more about this, but this hyperlink did not work!

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