What is an Authentic Assessment: Everything You Need to Know

An authentic assessment is a type of evaluation that requires students to provide solutions to real-life situations based on their knowledge and critical thinking skills. These tests are heavily based on problem-solving skills and are usually rooted in a topic that students have previously been taught. A common form of authentic assessment is oral testing which puts students in a ‘hot seat’ situation, where they have to rely on their residual knowledge and cleverness to solve problems on the spot.

Authentic assessment tests integrate content that has already been studied and evaluate a student’s ability to use that knowledge in a real-world situation. Other common forms of authentic assessment include portfolios, which are used to document a student’s learning progress over time and are used as tools to generate consistent and organized feedback. Some additional types of authentic assessment include debating, role-playing, etc. Thus, broadly speaking, authentic assessments can be of two types – real-world assessments that need students to engage in actual situations in their field, and realistic evaluations that are relevant in nature but engage students in situations that imitate the real world (for instance, a case study). 

Before conducting such assessments, teachers teach their students how to “do” the subjects – be it history, math, science, etc., and not just know them. Next, to evaluate what their students had learned, they can ask students to execute tasks that “imitate the challenges” faced by those doing, for instance, historical survey, mathematics, or performing scientific investigation.

Some may wonder what makes an assessment authentic. Here are the main criteria:

·         It’s realistic

·         It requires the students to “do” what they have learned

·         It involves innovation and judgment

·         It simulates or replicates the contexts in which the students are tested

·         It examines the student’s ability to effectively and competently use a range of skills and knowledge to complete a complex task

·         It allows suitable opportunities to practice, rehearse, consult resources, and obtain feedback on and improve performance

Oral tests and essays are the best types of assessment for testing high-level knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. First, teachers should consider the type of knowledge they want to test. This should be followed by designing an assessment that’s most appropriate for their students and the curriculum.

With authentic assessments, students get the opportunity to test their knowledge and skills in new and real-life situations. This will help them get ready to be assessed in their professional lives and even show them how relevant their course’s content is outside the classroom.

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