In authentic assessments, students apply concepts to real world situations by completing meaningful task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills and effectively measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessment.
Authentic assessment helps students to develop skills, requires students to practice creative thinking and problem-solving, and allows for multiple paths to demonstrate knowledge. Most authentic assessments involve complex questions and tasks that do not have straightforward solutions; students must research, brainstorm, practice, draft, and refine solutions in order to complete the assignment.
Authentic assessment can benefit students by increasing their motivation, since the assessments are more interesting and students have more control over their approach. Providing real-world tasks also helps students to build their interpersonal and communication skills. These assessments help instructors make a holistic assessment of students’ achievement without relying on quiz questions or putting undue emphasis on memorization of course materials.
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Because authentic assessments tend to be complex and may span multiple weeks during a course, it’s important to provide appropriate scaffolding so that students have the support they need to perform well. It’s also important to provide a clear explanation of the purpose and objectives of the assessment, and to include detailed grading rubrics and guidelines.
When designing course content, try to include a variety of assessment types, and consider how to incorporate authentic assessments that students will find engaging and rewarding to complete.
An example of authentic assessment would be to provide engineering or building construction students with a problem, and ask them to propose their own solution along with a timeline and proposed budget. Depending on the course and type of students enrolled, it may be possible to create interdisciplinary teams so that students with different backgrounds can share their perspectives while solving a shared problem.
In some courses, it may be appropriate to include a performance-based assessment. For example, in nursing courses, students may interact with mock patients and be graded on a performance rubric. Likewise, law students may participate in mock trials, or speech students may participate in debates. These performance-based assessments are authentic because students are doing work equivalent to a real-world task they may encounter in their profession or area of expertise.
For further examples, explore the CITT Showcase page on Authentic Assessments.