Authentic Assessment




I think of authentic assessments as ways for students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in a public way. What makes assessment authentic for me is that students do something to show what they know in a public way that benefits a wider community than the one person assigning a grade.

The posters that students did in their first year College of Agriculture and Bioresources (AgBio) classes this past term are, in my way of defining authentic assessment, stellar examples.

Working in teams, students prepared a research poster as part of their undergraduate research experience. On the afternoon of December 3rd there were 99 posters on display up and down hallways in AgBio. What an impressive and exciting initiative!

I spent the afternoon asking students about their research and reading posters. I spent time with about 30 of the 99 teams. All students were articulate, knowledgeable, engaged, and prepared. In comparing notes with the other judges, this was the rule—without exception.

It was a great afternoon—and example authentic assessment—students got direct feedback through their interaction with their peers, instructors, and people walking through AgBio. They received feedback from their instructors throughout the research process that culminated in the poster afternoon.

It was a big undertaking for the students, instructors, TAs, and research coaches involved but the impact, the connections, the sharing of ideas and information, the chance to discuss and explain…It was powerful. And I think it created memories that will not be forgotten for a long time—if ever.

So the students could have handed in an individual report on a question they were interested in and the instructors could have been the only people who benefitted from reading what the students wrote, but this was an event.

If you have an example of when you have implemented an authentic assessment strategy in your class or you are interested in brainstorming and planning ways to integrate authentic assessment in your class please contact us at the Gwenna Moss Centre.

Note: AgBio is one of the three pilot sites and the instructors of the first year courses took up the initiative in a big way! Their goal was for every AgBio student to have an undergraduate research experience in the first term of their first year. (For more on this initiative check out a couple of Murray Drew’s blog posts:

 

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