Framework for authentic assessment
Learning that supports competence building and higher-order thinking requires authentic assessment instead of multiple-choice tests. This article defines authentic assessment and proposes a framework for designing them.
- The importance of authentic competency-based assessment
- Defining authentic assessment
- Toward a five-dimensional framework for authentic assessment
- An argumentation for the five dimensions of authentic assessment
- Some considerations
- The relative importance of the five dimensions: Paired comparisons
- Completeness and relative importance: What do participants say?
Assessment procedures for different levels of learning
Instruction, learning, and assessment (ILA) must be aligned. For lower-level knowledge acquisition, this might be adequate or even preferable (and is entirely ok for some types of learning):
- Instructional approach: Knowledge transmission
- Learning approach: Rote memorization
- Assessment procedure: Standardize testing, such as multiple choice tests
However, building competence and higher-order thinking requires a different instructional and learning approach, and likewise a different approach to assessment:
- Instructional approach: Competence development
- Learning approach: Learner has ownership of their learning, which is reflective, active knowledge construction
- Assessment procedure: Can be formative instead of summative; ‘involves interesting real-life or authentic tasks and contexts as well as multiple assessment moments and methods’ (Gulikers et al., 2004, p. 68)
Benefits of authentic, competency-based assessment
- Construct validity: It measures what’s supposed to be measured, the ability of a person to solve a problem in a real-life setting.
- Consequential validity: It provides the learner with a correct message about the goal of the learning program. (This is related to Biggs’ constructive alignment theory, which in part states that learners construct meaning from the learning activities, which includes summative assessments.)
The authors review many definitions in previous publications before setting out the definition of “authentic assessment” they use in this paper: ‘an assessment requiring students to use the same competencies, or combinations of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, that they need to apply in the criterion situation in professional life’ (Gulikers et al., 2004, p. 69). The instruction and assessment must be authentic, but also the learner must perceive them to be authentic.
Authentic instruction and assessment
Authentic instruction and authentic assessment both have the same five dimensions: task, physical context, social context, assessment result or form, and criteria and standards. With competency-based assessment, the learning tasks and the assessment tasks are similar because the assessment verifies that the learner can perform the learning activity without support.
Note: The authors found in their research that learners ranked social context to be of least importance for authenticity, and students and teachers disagreed in their responses when rating the the importance of physical context.
Authentic instruction and assessment: A checklist
- Do the learning and assessment tasks resemble the real-world tasks in their:
- Integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes?
- Levels of complexity?
- Ownership of the task and developing solutions?
- Are the tasks linked to relevant skills or real working situations in a way that learners can see how the tasks align with their work and needs?
- Are the learning and assessment conducted in a physical context that is:
- Similar to the real-world situation?
- Has the same amount and types of resources available to the learner?
- Has the same amount of time available to complete the task as would be available in the real-world situation?
- Do the learning and assessment provide opportunities for collaboration, social interaction, interdependence, and individual accountability (that is, social context) that are similar to the real-world situation?
- Does the assessment form:
- Require learners to produce a product or perform an action that demonstrates their competencies?
- Offer a variety of tasks and ways to indicate learning?
- Require the learners to present their product or perform the action to others, and ask them to defend their work?
- Are the criteria (what’s important to learn) and standard (level of performance expected after learning):
- Made clear to the learners at the start of the learning program?
- Tied to realistic real-world scenarios or needs, and relevant professional competencies?