Authentic assessment is all in the name. It aims to determine if students have learned the skills they need to be successful outside of the classroom by grading based on abilities required in the real world. Traditional assessments, on the other hand, use methods such as multiple choice and true/false tests, or essay assignments to determine student competency—but these types of assessments only show so much.
So how do you accurately assess for these types of skills?
You can create assessments that mirror the skills you’re hoping your students will have after they leave your classroom.
We sat down with Marsha Bayless, Professor and Department Chair of Business Communication and Legal Studies at Nelson Rusche College of Business, to discuss her thoughts on authentic assessment and the role it plays in her classroom.
Bayless says that with students, what it really comes down to is determining: “Can you perform? And can you demonstrate what the skill actually is?” Even she will concede that it can be difficult to do.
Authentic Assessment is in the Eyes of the Beholder
As an educator at a business school, an important focus for her class is on communication skills. To better facilitate this, Bayless uses video. Since more companies are beginning to embrace video interviews, a popular assignment in her online class is to set up mock interviews to replicate what students would experience when trying to get an internship. Her students in theory know what they should be doing, but are they able to do it in practice?
The students record themselves, and with the help of that video she’s able to point out to students exactly what they’re doing wrong. When presentations aren’t videotaped, it can be difficult for students to grasp where their skills need to be improved because they can’t go back and watch themselves. This type of presentation provides Bayless a more authentic idea of her student’s skills, and the video helps the students visualize where they’re lacking and where they’re excelling.
Skills for When Things Get Real
The assignment that tests a student’s ability to interview is particularly useful for the real world. Bayless says that it gives her students more confidence. They think, “I’ve done this kind of thing before and I can do this.”
For teachers, they often need to ask themselves: at the end of the class, what skills do you want your students to have? Once you understand what you want your students to be able to do, you can then make a rubric for how to evaluate them.
Ultimately, students shouldn’t simply have arbitrary knowledge and not be able to do anything with it. It’s important to make sure students have the skills they’ll need in the real world. While it can sometimes be difficult to settle on these skills and accurately evaluate them, ensuring student success will be worth the challenge.
If you’re interested in learning more about authentic assessments and how they can help you better assess your students, download this helpful guide.
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