For many workplaces, the educational argument for integrating authentic assessments into their eLearning experiences is powerful. When effective, authentic assessments not only provide significant prompts to engage learners in the experience, they also help to equip learners with the skills they need to transfer their knowledge to the workplace or community where it is most applicable.
Authentic assessments, in contrast to traditional assessments that are more focused on the recalling of facts, can be effective ways to immerse learners in a deeper level of learning by requiring them to show what they know and what they can do with the knowledge they have gained in their learning experience. They also are known for being valuable tools for learners to evaluate and improve their own performance.
As Grant Wiggins (1998) explained, an assessment is authentic if it:
- Is realistic
- Requires judgment and innovation
- Prompts the student to “do”
- Replicates or simulates contexts in which learners are “tested” in the workplace, in their community, or in their personal life
- Assesses the learner’s ability to efficiently and effectively use a repertoire of knowledge and skills to perform in complex situations
- Provides appropriate opportunities for learners to rehearse, practice, consult resources, get feedback on, and refine performances and products
When designing authentic assessments for eLearning, here are some examples to consider:
- Authentic Task: A task designed to assess the learner’s ability to apply standard-driven knowledge and skills to real-world challenges (such as by completing a Try It/Do It software simulation or engaging in a role play interaction).
- Writing Samples: A prompt for the learner to generate a narrative based on what they’ve learned in the experience (such as prompting the learner to write a sales pitch based on the product knowledge they’ve acquired and giving the learner an opportunity to compare their script with an expert’s response).
- Projects or Exhibitions: A prompt for the learner to create a “product”—such as a plan of action or a presentation that they share with their team—that demonstrates what they’ve learned in the experience.
- Experiments or Demonstrations: An interaction designed to allow the student to illustrate a procedure, perform the necessary steps to complete a task, and document the results—such as a scenario-based interaction that requires the learner to complete certain tasks to achieve ideal outcomes.
- Self-Assessment: An opportunity for the learner to evaluate their performance to determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to reflect on what improvements can be made to enhance products—such as via a learning journal or open-ended reflection questions.
- Constructed – Response Items: A requirement for the learner to respond (or select appropriate responses) to open-ended questions—such as a gamified interaction that requires the learner to select appropriate responses in a given time limit.
With each of these types of authentic assessments, it is important to keep in mind that they are not always right for every situation. Although authentic assessments offer many advantages, including enhancing real-world skills, promoting creativity, and encouraging collaborative work, they can also be time-intensive to manage, monitor, and coordinate, and challenging to develop for certain objectives, especially in an eLearning experience.
If you’re considering integrating authentic assessments into your eLearning experience, here are a few helpful questions to consider:
- What are the desired learning outcomes that you would like your learners to reach?
- What type of knowledge do you require your learners to have?
- At what level of understanding will your learners be required to transfer the knowledge from their learning experience to the workplace? (i.e. will they be required to perform at a novice, advanced, or expert level)
- How will this new-found knowledge be used in their roles?
- Which authentic assessment method is most suitable the goals of your eLearning experience?
- How will the learner’s success be measured beyond the eLearning experience?
As you work to design engaging eLearning experiences, consider how authentic assessments can be used to promote deeper levels of learning. By integrating authentic assessments into your eLearning experience, not only will you gain a clearer view of how well your learners are performing their new skills, you also will gain valuable insight as to how you can continue to improve the experience for current and future learners.
Contact eLearning Brothers Custom Solutions to have us design authentic assessments for your next training!
Wiggins, Grant. (1998). Ensuring authentic performance. Chapter 2 in Educative Assessment: Designing
Assessments to Inform and Improve Student Performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 21 –