Traditionally, assessment which is typically done in a form of test or quiz provides negative notion among the students. More often than usual, traditional assessment methods merely expects the students to recall knowledge through multiple choice tests, enumeration, identification, and others. Such method of assessment usually causes anxiety among the students which hinders them from giving accurate response as to what they have really learned – thus, hampering valid formative assessment and feedback.
On the other hand, authentic assessment or alternative assessment usually entails tasks in which the students will be involved and an accompanying rubric which will be used in evaluating their performance on the specified tasks. Wiggins (1993) as cited by Mueller (2008) defined authentic assessment as engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field.
In other words, authentic assessment is the provision of direct application of knowledge learned through practical tasks designed to evaluate the students’ ability to apply learning (transfer of learning). According to Mueller (2008), authentic assessments, on the other hand, offer more direct evidence of application and construction of knowledge compared to traditional assessment.
Here is an example of an authentic assessment I have done in my Mathematics class with ESL learners who are expected to master fundamental concepts in Mathematics and develop their English language proficiency. When I taught “Money and Budget” among the learners, I assessed their ability to solve problems related to money and their ability to integrate the four language skills by asking them to look for a practical problem which involves money. I asked my students to write them down in paragraph form, interpret and express them in mathematical symbols, and then present their problems and solution in class. I developed a rubric to evaluate their works (oral and written) and communicated it with them beforehand. That way, I was able to authentically assess my students for their presentations gave me a concrete evidence on how much they have learned and my feedback (which was based on the rubric) was clear with them beforehand, thus, giving them ideas on what needs to be improved next time.
When assessing our students, we have to remember that, as teachers, we do not assess our students so we could give our judgment to them or encourage them to compete one another. The real essence of assessment can be found in our genuine interest to help our students in the process of learning. We assess the learners so we could provide them immediate and accurate feedback that would help them in their impending learning endeavors.
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