Best Practices for Authentic Assessments in Learner-Centered Classrooms

Best Practices for Authentic Assessments in Learner-Centered Classrooms

Barbara Hagler (Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0892-2.ch014
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Abstract

Although not new, many believe authentic assessments need to be used more frequently than traditional objective assessments in classrooms of all types and at all educational levels. Authentic assessments are subjective, provide a better picture of student learning, and require students to perform tasks more similar to what they will be required to do in the real world. While completing the assessments students also improve skills and apply knowledge from content learned in previous situations. Authentic assessments can be used to evaluate knowledge as well as soft and hard skills. Rubrics are frequently created and used by the teacher to evaluate these assessments.
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Learner-Centered Classroom

Learner centered “can be understood as the combination of a focus on individual learners with a focus on the best available knowledge we have about learning and the teaching practices that support learning for all teachers and students alike” (Mccombs & Miller, 2007, p. 16). Supporters of the learner-centered classroom believe it to be the best type of classroom for the students because it allows each learner to be more involved with their own learning and believe it to allow the learner to reach higher levels of learning.

According to McCombs and Miller (2007), “when teachers are being learner centered, their practices won’t look the same from day to day, class to class, department to department” (p. 120). Assessment is one of those practices that will and should look different in the learner-centered classroom. Assessment in the learner-centered classroom should be exactly what it sounds like it should be—learner centered. The learner should be more involved with the assessment process and each student’s assessment may look different. The assessment should not just be an objective test.

Effective learning takes place when learners feel challenged to work toward appropriately high goals; therefore, appraisal of the learner’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as current knowledge and skills, important for the selection of instructional materials of an optimal degree of difficulty. Ongoing assessment of the learner’s understanding of the curricular material can provide valuable feedback to both learners and teachers about progress toward the learning goals. (McCombs & Miller, 2007, p. 62)

McCombs and Miller (2007) went on to discuss the importance of high standards and formative and summative assessment. “Setting appropriately high and challenging standards and assessing the learner as well as learning progress—including diagnostic, process, and outcome assessment—are integral parts of the learning process” (p. 62). Teachers can use authentic assessments during the learning process (formative assessment) as well as at the end of the learning process (summative assessment). As with traditional assessments, the summative assessment is frequently more demanding for the student.

One form of assessment recommended for the learner-centered classroom is authentic assessment. Authentic assessment is a “form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills” (Mueller, 2014d, para. 1).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Authentic Assessment: An assessment which requires the student to show they have learned the content and can use the content in such a way as they will use the content in the real world (often the workplace).

Formative Assessment: An assessment which is done during the instructional process to evaluate whether the students are learning the content.

Summative Evaluation: An assessment which is done at the end of the instructional process to evaluate the level of mastery of the student.

Levels of Performance: The possible performances for a criteria, which should represent the possibilities for differences in student learning on a specific criterion.

Portfolio: A compilation of artifacts created by a student to showcase their work in a professional way such as a person looking for a job would show a potential employer.

Rubric: A tool to be used to evaluate the level of accomplishment of the work of a student.

Criteria: The things the teacher will look for when evaluating an assessment.

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