What is Authentic Assessment?

When testing a student, it can be wasteful to assess just one singular skill. For an analysis to be an accurate indicator of a pupil's ability and progression over a period of time, multiple skills should be measured. This broader approach to assessing is known as authentic assessment, and is a popular procedure in most schools and colleges. In this article, the various aspects and benefits of authentic assessment go under the microscope.

Aside from the brief definition given above, there are a range of other ideas that slot into the idea of assessing authentically. Usually, with tasks that comply with the rules of this process, students will become involved in realistic tasks that are insightful and have a meaning.

The thinking that learning should be meaningful has been put forward by many psychologists; after all, what is the point of children leaving school with knowledge of subjects and specific topics but an inability to use communication, decision-making, and other important life skills?

For this reason, authentic assessment exercises aim to be more inclusive than simply writing answers to questions on a exam paper. Regardless of what subject the paper relates to, the ability to write is the only necessary skill aside from the knowledge of the topic in question.

It can be hard to believe, but writing the information down doesn't always mean it is understood. During revision, facts, figures, quotes and theories are memorized. Some people claim to have completed their whole education without understanding anything in its entirety. Instead, they simply go over the details at such an intensity, and for so long, that information is embedded into their mind.

This is perfectly fine - when you're at school. But what happens when exams are finished, grades are secured, and you want to enter the world of work? You may be able to write, but it's likely you will have forgotten the information you worked so hard to install in your memory; you didn't learn it, but simply memorized what you needed to know. When it comes to communicating with others, or carrying out tasks, you need to actually understand what you're talking about and what you're doing. It's at this point that people regret not learning the information properly.

Of course, this isn't always the student's fault. A lot of the time, they revised the revision book thoroughly and as instructed by their tutor. This is why the demand for authentic assessment methods is ever increasing.

The process engages students in a range of activities that rely on a whole range of skills. They may enter group discussions, write letters and diaries, conduct experiments, and make use of different types of multimedia. By doing this, pupils get more of a feel for what they are learning. A hands-on, diverse approach leads to an understanding, rather than just knowledge.

By making learning exercises realistic, too, students get real-life experience that they can take with them into their careers at a young age. Thanks to Authentic assessment methods, when pupils leave school behind, they're usually far better prepared for the world of work - fulfilling potential is far easier.