Developing authentic assessments: An Understanding by Design approach

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

Authentic assessments challenge students to develop real-world skills while increasing satisfaction and engagement; they can also be daunting to develop. A framework for developing authentic assessments integrating best practices and Understanding by Design concepts will be shared. Design templates will guide participants in the creation of an authentic assessment.

Extended Abstract

Authentic assessment increases the quality and depth of learning and the development of higher-order cognitive skills. Authentic assessment can improve student autonomy, motivation, self-regulation, metacognition, satisfaction, and engagement. With all of these known benefits what keeps us from using authentic assessment in our classrooms? Well, authentic assessment is hard. It takes time, energy, resources, and often a shift in culture to move away from rote recitation or application without meaning. Designing an authentic assessment does not have to be such a daunting task though. 

In this session, participants will be introduced to a framework for designing authentic assessments based on best practices and the integration of Understanding by Design principles. A design tool will be provided, and participants will be guided through the development of an authentic assessment for their classroom.  Strategies for developing the essential elements of realism and evaluative judgment will be shared, along with examples to illustrate the variety of ways authentic assessment can be achieved in blended and online classrooms. Group discussion will examine the barriers to authentic assessment with a focus on problem-solving solutions to support integration.

Assessment is no longer just a way to measure a student's progress or their retention of information but is an essential part of the teaching and learning process. Defined as an assessment that requires students to use the same knowledge, skills, and attitudes they would apply in real-world situations, authentic assessment aims to improve the preparation of students for professional lives beyond the classroom. There are challenges associated with moving away from traditional methods of assessment. Reliability of the assessment, insufficient time and resources, teacher and student unfamiliarity, and increased teacher workload are concerns associated with integrating authentic assessment. An important strategy for negating some of these barriers is to have a simple design tool to guide teacher planning from the alignment of the assessment within the course to the evaluation of student performance, and the integration of metacognitive strategies for enhancing student learning. While challenging, authentic assessment can be integrated into the classroom with careful planning and consideration of best practices in authentic assessment design.

By the end of this session, participants will gain an appreciation for the benefits of authentic assessment and articulate why it should be used in the classroom. Participants will leave the session with a template for designing an authentic assessment. Participants will understand the essential elements of authentic assessment to integrate during the design process and strategies for overcoming the barriers to authentic assessment integration.