Authentic assessment of authentic tasks
Herrington, J. (2009) Authentic assessment of authentic tasks. In: Australian Technology Network Assessment Conference 2009: Assessment in Different Dimensions, 19 - 20 November 2009, RMIT University, Melbourne.
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Authentic tasks engage students in higher order thinking, problem solving, and the creation of polished products over extended periods of time. If such tasks are assessed, for example, by standardised multiple choice questions, a powerful message is sent to students that the kind of learning that is valued is lower order factual knowledge. If, as is claimed, we assess what we value and value what we assess, then it is important to ensure that assessment of complex tasks is integrated and authentic, and truly capable of assessing higher order learning and outcomes.
This keynote address will present a model for the design and development of authentic learning environments, where tasks and activities have fidelity to the conditions under which they would occur in the real world. The alignment between an authentic task and its assessment is frequently neglected. Failure to effect this alignment can lead to the negation of the impact of any authentic task used by teachers and educational developers—even with the best of intentions. Alignment between task and assessment effectively allows the teacher to apply realistic criteria to assess real products, and examples of several e-learning tasks and assessment will be given. Using such an approach, students become better prepared for their future experiences as effective professional practitioners.
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