Friday, May 2, 2008

authentic assessment principles

Hi! Welcome to the principles of authentic assesment blog. Patricia, Joan and I (the Online Pedgogical Networkers team) have spend numerous weeks researching,unpacking and constructing our understanding of what is meant by authentic assessment. We found many interpretations of authenticity giving us the impression, at first, of quite a 'dense' pedagogical concept. However, as our journey progressed we started to see connections in the literature which allows us to identify key principles of authentic assessment.

As this is my first venture into blogging (yes I have been hiding under a rock) my plan is to kick off the dialogue with just one question while I master the platform to see what 'bells and whistles' I can embed to tempt you further into my blogging world:)

My question is "What are the principles of authentic assessment?"
HINT: our research uncovered the following 'generic' principles:
• course design - constructive alignment between learning outcomes, learning and teaching activities and assessment
• assessment design that is student-centred, resembles real-life situations (note: must be perceived as real-life to the learner not the teacher), requires students to demonstrate their learning and take ownership of the learning process, and must take into account the education level of the learner
• defines authentic assessment as resembling the real world - the professional real world; real world situations
• recognises the social context in which authentic assessment takes place - collaboration, socio-cultural influences in a real-life situation
• well designed authentic assessment have a positive influence of student learning and motivation (self-efficacy)
• students become effective assessors of their own learning (self-assessment, self-evaluation)


Maxine said...

Hi all,
forgot to mention (and can't find the edit button on my last post) when thinking about the principles of authentic assessment, it would be great if you could give an example of an assessment item from your teaching or experienced as a student, that demonstrates (or not) some the these principles.
Cheers, Maxine

Paul Penfold (aka Paul Allandale in SL) said...

Hi Maxine
You may have already answered the question for I will just add one example from my last semester teaching. We wanted students to be able to learn and apply HR principles in a hospitality context. We were studying 'motivation of staff' and asked students to survey part-time and full time students to find out what motivated them. Students completed a survey with 20 of their fellow students, and then tried to identify the main motivators - money, status, belonging to a team, support for new staff etc. They had to report back on their findings, and make some suggestions to an imaginary HR manager about ways then to apply the findings - e.g. arrange some staff social activities, provide mentors for new staff etc. They found this was a very relevant learning activity, as most had done an internship or part time work and found the reflection and application meaningful in considering motivation theory.

Toppy said...

Hi Maxine,
This is one of the areas close to my heart. I work within the Vocational Education Training (VET) Sector of Australia - for those that don't know this sector curriculum is led by industry in the form of Training Packages and is competency based. The ideal assessment in this industry is on-the-job assessment - very authentic. But the reality is this is not always possible and we are left with clunky attempts that are so removed from reality to assess competence. Technology has added another dimension enabling students to capture what they do through video, photos and other evidence gathering techniques and share this directly with the assessor.
Creativity is key in designing assessment items that are relevant, authentic and engaging enabling participants to apply their learning to a real situation and test their knowledge.
Cheers T

Bea said...

Hi guys,

I think the keyword here is "real" (hence - authentic) - real world, a real task, something that is real for the students and has a real use in their future work or study.

For ESL students I ask them to debate in English (with the proper planning, of course) or create a spoken introduction to their hometown (which they all adore their own hometowns!) or perhaps a role play of a situation (working on their facial expressions and body language as well). For them it's how to use English in the real world.

For newbie English teacher training, they create lesson plans and resources that are later to be used in an actual class (also assessed). All the things that a qualified teacher would produce or do in their job is up for assessment (with some non-assessed or self-assessed practice sessions and observations beforehand). Again, trying to be as 'real' as possible.

- Bee

Maxine said...

Thanks Paul, Bea and Toppy for your enlightening comments. The message that I am getting from your postings is the importance of assessment as 'real-life' event for the learner. This supports the literature (Boyd, 2007; Scott, 2006) that suggests for an assessment task to be authentic it must be designed from the eyes of the learner. That is, the learner must perceive it to be authentic.

This leads to my next question “Is feedback an important component of authentic assessment and if so where does it 'fit'?" I am keen to read examples from your discipline area (VET, ESL, hospitality and others) of the relational nature of authentic assessment and feedback.

Also, it would be great if you could take a moment and reflect on “How you could improve your assessment tasks to achieve the principles of authentic assessment?”

I look forward to your comments.
Cheers, Maxine

Learning said...

Hey maxine,
just continuing the discussion. In VET sector it is all about competency based and to obtain evidence of competence assessments need to be authentic. However, this is not always the case. You can't always replicate the real work situations people are in to assess if they are competent so then it is a matter of creating portfolios of evidence that demonstrate particular skills, knowledge etc in isolation. A great source of VET sector literature is at the NCVER site.
This approach uses an assessment tool that incorporates problems that participants routinely experience in their courses and in the workplace. regards T

My space said...

Hi Max,

It seems that AA is a popular topic in our pedagogical events and this show its importance in our learning as learners and teachers at the same time. Let me share you these points that summarize AA based on literature(Barrett, 2004; Mueller, (2006):

* Students are active learners.

* Curriculum driven by student interest and relevant theses.

* Students work cooperatively with an emphasis on teamwork.

* It supports learning process through continuous scaffolding and feedback ensuring learner progress to success.

* It becomes a tool for student learning- it is therefore integrated into the process.

Barrett, HC 2004, My "Online Portfolio Adventure" (Versions of my online portfolios developed using different systems or online publishing tools) viewed March 2006, .

Mueller, J (2006) What is Authentic Assessment (Authentic assessment toolbox) retrieved 10/5/2007

Anonymous said...

Hi Maxine,

AS far as online assessment as a teacher I have very limited experience except designing and implementing a computer marked multiple choice quiz which was appropriate for a self paced non moderated/facilitated course and it works well.

Assessment philosphy for me is a constant battle in my F2F context. Like Toppy I teach within the VET system and we need to make our assessments procedures both written and practicial as authentic as possible.

Our online team is also treying to achieve this and at the moment we are very much in our infancy in this matter.