Unit Two: Creating Effective Assessment



Bloom's taxonomy

Students will be able to understand the need for alternative assessment

Students will be able to understand what constitutes alternative assessment

Students will be able to give examples of alternative assessment, both examples of general assignments and pertinent to their classroom.

Grey arrow.gif Alternative assessment has sparked ongoing debate in education. Many educators feel it is important to assess students in ways other than basic testing. Assessment has evolved in the last couple of decades and is continually changing towards a more authentic way of thinking. The education reforms of recent years have called for a focus on assessing students on real experiences they may encounter outside of school. “Currently, national reform efforts challenge the use of traditional assessment methods such as objective tests. Advocates of assessment reform argue for alternative assessment practices such as performance-based assessment, portfolio assessment, and authentic assessment” (Anderson, 1998, p. 5). What makes an assessment successful? Record your ideas.

Types of Authentic Assessment

1. Open ended or extended response exercises, questions, or other prompts that require students to explore a topic orally or in writing (experiment observations, role playing)

2. Extended tasks assignments that require sustained attention in a single work area and are carried out over several hours or longer (writing poetry, developing, conducting, and explaining a science experiment)

3. Portfolios comprised of selected collections of a variety of performance-based work (best pieces with evaluation, journals, works in progress)

4. Performance tasks such as play, presentations, posters, or models

Grey arrow.gif Measuring assessment is not as simple as a pencil and paper test. What do the students need to know to be successful in today’s society? How do we motivate them? With the ever-changing society, assessing student knowledge has had to change. “The majority of the educational outcomes we value for students cannot be translated into objective paper and pencil test items” (Stiggens, 1991, p. 267). There have been several influences from society that have resulted in this need for change in the way assessment is done. With a more diverse learning population, it is necessary to use a variety of instructional and assessment strategies to meet the needs of the different learning styles. Students need to be motivated and if they find a task meaningful they will actively participate. Also, the constructivist learning style has become a widely held theory by many in the education field. Students take responsibility for their learning and learn from a variety of ways including active participation. The constructivist approach focuses on concept development, deep understanding and construction of active learner reorganization (Anderson, 1998, p. 6-7). For these reasons, and more, new alternative assessment has been necessary in the classroom.

Requirements for Authentic Assessment

1. Lessons have to involve activities that are amenable to authentic assessment such as project based learning, role playing, journals and cooperative learning

2. Tasks should be open ended, meaningful, take place in a realistic context, and be a learning experience

3. The learning expectations and the criteria for assessment should be matched to valued outcomes and to the tasks and need to be clearly defined

4. Assessments are based on identifiable and meaningful criteria

5. Students should be involved in developing the criteria for assessing their performance

6. Assessment criteria should be communicated to the students before the work is started.

Grey arrow.gif Effective assessment has certain key qualities. As you read from the following, taken from Jonathan Mueller's website on authentic assessment, think about your own definition of authentic assessment. How would you define authentic assessment? What do you think are the key qualities? Record your thoughts.

Read this! Authentic Assessment Definition


1. Now that you have learned about authentic assessment, I want you to begin to think about your own classroom. What units do you complete during the school year? What types of assessment do you do currently use for these units? What are you asking the students to know and what kind of knowledge do these assessments give?

2. For one of your assessment methods, choose an alternative method (Think authentic assessment!) that you would not normally use. Provide a description of the assignment and what your chosen method of assessment is going to be. What do you want your students to know? What kind of knowledge did this type of assessment give to the learner?

3. Use what you have learned about authentic assessment to guide your thoughts.

On to the next unit: Unit Three

Back to the home page: Teaching for Understanding

Extended Resources