Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology

Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology

Beth Rubin (DePaul University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-654-9.ch006
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Constructivist education usually involves authentic assessment, which is affected by the media used to teach. Information technology can enhance or hinder the authenticity of assessment in key ways. This chapter provides a framework to analyze the opportunities to enhance authenticity when assessment is mediated by information technology, as well as the limitations of IT mediation on authenticity. The degree of authenticity possible is determined by several aspects of the competence being assessed: the chronicity of access to and use of information, the durability of the display, the use of written, oral and non-verbal communication, and computer use. This framework is used to identify IT tools that enable more authentic assessment, as well as sample approaches. It identifies aspects of competences that may not be authentically assessed via information technologies, limitations on the use of technology, and future trends.
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For more than twenty years, the preeminent theoretical approach to understanding and improving education has been constructivism. Many researchers have built upon the work of Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky and others to develop different, occasionally competing paradigms of how people think, learn and know within this umbrella concept, such as radical constructivism, social constructivism, critical constructivism and information-processing constructionism (Dougiamas, 1998; Downing & Holtz, 2008; Gergen, 1995; Steffe & Gale, 1995; von Glasersfeld, 1995). Although there are many differences among these approaches, most share several key principles about how people know and learn:

  • Knowledge is adaptive; that is, it helps people to deal with and respond to the world around them.

  • Learners actively construct knowledge, rather than passively receiving it from outside experts. Learners need to actively engage with concepts, processes and facts.

  • Learning comes from the interaction of the person and his/her environment, particularly with other people; it often socially constructed.

  • Learners are not “blank slates” but rather complex thinkers. New knowledge must fit into, and enhance the complexity of, the knowledge and schemas that they already have. Learners perceive all new information through a lens of their history, beliefs, values and perceptions, which are continually evolving.

There are many pedagogical implications of constructivism. These include the importance of practical and applied work, as well as collaboration and social networking. Learning happens best with scaffolded educational materials that support developing expertise over time; as well as flexible and student-centered course designs that provide multiple paths to learning. Learners should have the autonomy to regulate their own learning; and assessment should be authentic (Anderson, 2008; Bonk & Cunningham, 1998; Dougiamas, 1998; Downing & Holtz, 2008; Hirumi, 2002). This chapter will focus on authentic assessment as a constructivist pedagogical approach, and how it is enhanced – or hindered – when mediated by information technology.

Authentic assessment has been defined as “engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field” (Wiggins, 1993, p. 229). Authentic assessment is critical if students are situated in the center of the learning, rather than having education revolve around the faculty, and when learning is socially constructed (Albon, 2003; Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 1999) because it is meaningful, realistic, complex, and demonstrates competence through the performance of “real world tasks” (Mueller, 2006). It measures not just what students know, or can do, but what they actually do.

Key principles of authentic assessment include: 1) students are required to “to be effective performers with acquired knowledge”; 2) students address “the full array of tasks that mirror the priorities and challenges” of real world use; 3) there are high standards and mastery of complex skills, because students must “craft polished, thorough and justifiable answers, performances or products”; and 4) assessments “involve ‘ill-structured’ challenges and roles,” reflecting the requirements of real world use (Wiggins, 1990, What Is Authentic Assessment section, para 4-9).

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Michael Sherman
Carla R. Payne
Chapter 1
Maria Luisa Pérez Cavana
Taking into account the complexity and multiplicity of constructivist theories, the first part of this chapter focuses on the relationship between... Sample PDF
Closing the Circle: From Dewey to Web 2.0
Chapter 2
Noel Fitzpatrick, Nóirín Hayes, K.C. O’Rourke
Constructivism has become the comfortable face of educational theory in recent years, due in no small part to the mainstreaming of learning... Sample PDF
Beyond Constriction and Control: Constructivism in Online Theory and Practice
Chapter 3
Barbara de la Harpe, Fiona Peterson
There is a strong move worldwide for a constructivist theory to underpin the way teaching and learning are viewed in today’s colleges and... Sample PDF
The Theory and Practice of Teaching with Technology in Today's Colleges and Universities
Chapter 4
Karen Swan, D.R. Garrison, Jennifer C. Richardson
This chapter presents a theoretical model of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, which is grounded in John Dewey’s... Sample PDF
A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework
Chapter 5
Jennifer Lee, Lin Lin
Based on constructivist principles, this chapter provides a new instructional design map for online learning environments. This instructional design... Sample PDF
Applying Constructivism to Online Learning: A New Instructional Design Map
Chapter 6
Beth Rubin
Constructivist education usually involves authentic assessment, which is affected by the media used to teach. Information technology can enhance or... Sample PDF
Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology
Chapter 7
Xenia Coulter, Alan Mandell
The adult college student, caught between the competing demands of work and home, has recently become a valuable commodity in today’s fast-changing... Sample PDF
Nontraditional Students and Information Technology: The Siren Call of the Virtual Classroom and its Impact on Progressive Educational Ideals
Chapter 8
Jakko van der Pol
This chapter aims to perform a thorough analysis of students’ online learning conversations. Although offering a high potential for collaborative... Sample PDF
Online Learning Conversations: Potential, Challenges and Facilitation
Chapter 9
Laura M. Nicosia
Contemporary educators have been reassessing pedagogical frameworks and reevaluating accepted epistemologies and ontologies of learning. The age-old... Sample PDF
Virtual Constructivism: Avatars in Action
Chapter 10
G. Andrew Page, Radwan Ali
The key idea that sets constructivism apart from other theories of cognition was launched about 60 years ago by Jean Piaget. It was the idea that... Sample PDF
The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools
Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
This chapter examines some ways information technologies (IT) are deployed in higher education courses to help learners create robust mental models.... Sample PDF
IT-Enabled Strategies for Mental Modeling in E-Learning
Chapter 12
Roisin Donnelly
This chapter critically explores the design and implementation of a blended problem-based learning (PBL) module for academic professional... Sample PDF
Transformative Potential of Constructivist Blended Problem-Based Learning in Higher Education
Chapter 13
James G.R. Cronin, John Paul McMahon, Michael Waldron
Reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners within a “blended” learning environment needs to be articulated within a... Sample PDF
Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms
Chapter 14
M. Beatrice Ligorio, Nadia Sansone
In this chapter, the case of a blended university course will be described in detail. The main focus of this description will be on how some... Sample PDF
Structure of a Blended University Course: Applying Constructivist Principles to Blended Teaching
Chapter 15
Hwee Ling Lim, Fay Sudweeks
As educators utilize an increasingly wide range of technologies for facilitating interaction between distant learning parties, there are concerns... Sample PDF
Constructivism and Online Collaborative Group Learning in Higher Education: A Case Study
Chapter 16
Linda Lohr, Nicholas Eastham, David Kendrick
This case study describes how a constructivist theory of learning guided the design of distributed learning environment for a three credit hour... Sample PDF
Constructivist Strategies to Optimize Four Levels of Interaction in a Distributed Learning Environment: A Case Study
Chapter 17
Alessio Gaspar, Sarah Langevin, Naomi Boyer
This chapter discusses a case study of the application of technology to facilitate undergraduate students’ learning of computer programming in an... Sample PDF
Facilitating Students-Driven Learning of Computer Programming with Technology
Chapter 18
John Miller
A central component of constructivist pedagogy at the college level is the modeling and practicing of critical thinking, and since Socrates... Sample PDF
Designing Asynchronous Discussions to Teach Critical Thinking
Chapter 19
Mark H. Schulman
The challenges for Goddard College posed by 21st Century information technologies are their incorporation into, and reflection of, the foundational... Sample PDF
"To Be in Occasional Touch": Goddard College's Progressive Principles and Distributed Learning
Chapter 20
Carol R. Rinke, Divonna M. Stebick, Lauren Schaefer, M. Evan Gaffney
This chapter presents a critical case study on the use of information technology in a pre-service teacher education program. The authors integrated... Sample PDF
Using Blogs to Foster Inquiry, Collaboration, and Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education
Chapter 21
Michal Zellermayer, Nili Mor, Ida Heilweil
This chapter describes the learning environment that the authors created for veteran teachers, graduate students in Teaching and Learning who are... Sample PDF
The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment
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