Authentic Assessment (How You Assess)

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" (J. Mueller).  While we understand that environmental constraints make authentic assessments significantly more challenging to develop and implement than other forms of assessment, authentic assessment is key to student engagement, and we will focus on how to make your assessments as "authentic" as possible.  When students' work benefits real people or organizations, for instance, it often stimulates students to hold themselves more accountable, produce higher quality work, and make connections between course content and the real-world.

Authentic assessments:

  • are direct measures.
  • capture the constructive nature of learning.
  • integrate teaching, learning and assessment.
  • provide multiple paths to demonstration.

These articles describe the benefits of this approach.

Jon Mueller developed a comprehensive website, the Authentic Assessment Toolbox, that guides educators in developing authentic assessments.  The following are highlights from the toolbox, but we recommend that you review the full website prior to developing your assessment strategy.

Traditional Assessments  Authentic Assessments

Curriculum drives the assessment   

Assessment drives the curriculum
Selecting a response Performing a task
Contrived Real-life
Recall / recognition Construction / application
Teacher-structured Student-structured
Indirect evidence Direct evidence
Discourage teaching to the test Encourage teaching to the test