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.

Gulikers, J., Bastiaens, T., and Kirschner, P. (2004) ‘A Five-Dimensional Framework for Authentic Assessment’, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 67-86 [Online]. Available at


  1. Introduction
    1. The importance of authentic competency-based assessment
    2. Defining authentic assessment
  2. Toward a five-dimensional framework for authentic assessment
    1. An argumentation for the five dimensions of authentic assessment
    2. Some considerations
  3. Method
  4. Results
    1. The relative importance of the five dimensions: Paired comparisons
    2. Completeness and relative importance: What do participants say?
  5. Conclusion
  6. Discussion


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):

However, building competence and higher-order thinking requires a different instructional and learning approach, and likewise a different approach to assessment:

Benefits of authentic, competency-based assessment


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

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