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Toolkit Documentation
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Authentic assessment

In this short section, Shane Sutherland from PebblePad ePortfolio explains what authentic assessment is:

“There are plenty of academic articles about what authentic assessment is – and it can get pretty complicated. But there’s a simple explanation to be had: authentic assessment relates to what students experience in the real world. Instead of testing students’ proficiency in completing tests, authentic assessment methods are designed to assess knowledge and test how students apply that knowledge in real world situations.

Indeed, we’ve seen that the extent to which an assessment demonstrates the purposeful application of knowledge in practice is increasingly more important than knowledge recall. In short – knowing ‘stuff’ is important, but knowing how to apply that ‘stuff’, in different contexts, is invaluable.

Importantly, authentic assessment mechanisms give students the ability to focus on how they solve problems. In an exam situation, a student might correctly answer a question – but that doesn’t mean they did it purposefully – or that they could reach the same answer again. Instead, authentic assessment, which includes the opportunity for reflection, allows students to show their ‘workings out’. And importantly, they can decide what they’d do better or differently in future – allowing for continuous improvement.

The good news is that there are plenty of educators which are already harnessing authentic assessment to help develop skilled, capable – and importantly, confident – students and graduates. Over the last year (although admittedly hamstrung by Covid), we’ve seen a significant increase in simulations, projects, work placements, and workplace assessment – all of which bears witness to its growing importance in assessment design.”

Of course, it’s probably true to say that VET has always had one eye on authentic assessment through providing real life tasks for students in many occupational areas. 

Shane Sutherland (2022) The road to authentic assessment – how universities can harness the practice in the year ahead, https://www.e-assessment.com/news/the-road-to-authentic-assessment-how-universities-can-harness-the-practice-in-the-year-ahead/

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