The need for effective assessments has been recognized since the earliest days of public education. Student testing provides rationales and support for many activities, including instructional feedback, system monitoring, appropriate selection and placement of students, and certification of skills (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1992). With the growing recognition that learning is an individual accomplishment and that learning takes place in context, traditional testing methods need to be supplemented to accurately assess achievement (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Eisner, 1999). Authentic assessments are designed to accurately reflect the real world situations in which the skills and knowledge that students developed would be applied. Although there are a variety of authentic assessment methods, each method encourages linkages between the classroom experience and real world applications. This does not mean that traditional forms of testing are obsolete, rather that these methods should be supplemented by information gathered from more situational methods.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Reflective Exercise: An assessment that encourages students to reflect on what they have learned and to relate that learning to their own life experience. A journal is a type of reflective exercise.
Performance Assessment: Any assessment method that requires the student to demonstrate their skill by applying those skills in the solution of the problem or the creation of an object or performance.
Authentic Learning: Learning focused on the application of the developed skills beyond the classroom environment that allow for inquiry and self determination.
Critical Content: Content or skill areas that, if failed, could lead to a lack of successful completion of the course.
Scenario Problem: A narrative exercise that describes a problem that could be encountered in real life. Scenario problems have multiple solutions and require the student to assess the consequences of the possible solutions before deciding on a course of action.
Exhibitions: A display of student projects or a student performance that serves as a summative experience for the student.
Rubric: A scoring tool that describes the expected levels of performance acceptable for each grade category for each criterion. These are often presented in chart format.
Traditional Assessments: Assessments that measure mastery of a subject by sampling the subject content and developing objective style exams such as multiple choice exams to judge mastery.