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Rethinking Traditional Assessment Methods: The Shift Towards Authentic Assessment

Rethinking Traditional Assessment Methods: The Shift Towards Authentic Assessment


This article is all about the shift towards authentic assessment. In this article, we will learn about the difference between authentic and traditional assessment, why teachers are shifting to it, and how to establish an authentic assessment.

The education industry has changed drastically in the past decade. In today’s age, online learning has become the norm among students.

Over 70% of students prefer online learning over the classroom. This sentiment is reflected by the global e-learning market, which is set to reach 457 billion dollars by 2026.

This trend has changed the entire outlook of the education industry. That is why teachers and education institutions have started drifting away from traditional methods, especially for assessments. 

As the competition for better job prospects increases rapidly, students need more than textbook knowledge to flourish and stand out. This is where authentic assessment plays a significant role. The evaluation method is derived from the concept of meaningful learning, where students acquire a holistic education. Authentic assessment aims to create a learning experience where students are evaluated in realistic situations.

Before delving further into further complexities, let’s learn more about the concept.

Table of Contents:

What is Authentic Assessment?

In definition, authentic assessment is the evaluation of intellectual accomplishments that are meaningful.

The method contrasts with traditional assessment methods, such as MCQs and memorization exercises. It pushes students to implement their learnings into practice.

Unlike traditional assessments, it requires learners to be engaged in realistic and diverse scenarios. The method focuses on improving learners’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, improving their chances of addressing real-world problems.

Let’s get a better understanding of the difference between the two.

Also Read: Online Assessment Test: The Ultimate Way To Track Students’ Progress

Traditional Assessment vs. Authentic Assessment

Here are some key differences between traditional and authentic assessment:

Traditional AssessmentAuthentic Assessment 
Relies on written measures and forced choicesImplements multiple measures, both performance-based and written
Focuses on proxy measures of learning for target skillsEncourages direct measures of targeted skills 
The objective is to evaluate the acquisition of knowledgeThe goal is to develop meaningful learning and skills
Encourages the “what”Promotes the “how and why”
Prioritizes summative product or outcome Priorities learning processes or sequences
Targets simplistic tasks and skills in a singular mannerTeaches students about exceptions and ambiguities, simulating a realistic setting

Why Teachers are Shifting to Authentic Assessment

Education institutes understand the growing branches of job prospects in the market, and authentic assessment boosts graduate employability by developing “work-ready” skills in students.

The more diverse the jobs are, the more practical skills they will require. Monitoring and evaluating students using rudimentary methods won’t prepare them for real-life problems. 

That is why performance-based assessment is becoming more prevalent. Let’s take a look at some of its benefits over traditional assessment:

1. Relevance in Real World

Online assessment is the future of e-learning, and authentic assessment takes it a step further. 

The method closely mirrors the demands and challenges students will likely face in their careers or higher studies. The more familiar they get with such situations, the better their practical skills will be.

2. All-Rounded Evaluation

Being a student-centered assessment method, authentic assessment offers a complete view of their capabilities.

Unlike traditional assessment, it does not prioritize knowledge recall and memorization. The method presents students with tasks that mirror real life and require critical thinking.

Since it motivates learners to analyze information, make connections and think deeply, it offers an all-around evaluation to the educators.

3. Better Application and Retention

Authentic assessment delivered through online learning provides added benefits. For example, integrating features like gamification can make online learning more engaging and promote higher retention rates. 

Since it focuses on implementing skills, the method pushes students to transfer their knowledge to solve issues. Holistic learning and assessments ensure students retain their knowledge beyond the classroom by creating situations and opportunities to apply the skills. 

4. Engagement and Interaction

An online assessment test is expected to be the ideal way to track students’ progress. However, if the methods cannot engage students, their learning will be heavily restricted. With authentic assessment, learners are involved in active learning, such as problem-solving tasks and on-hands activities. 

Since these activities motivate students to input practical skills, they become more associated with the tasks. Moreover, the method encourages students to present their understanding creatively. Be it vibrant designs, multimedia presentations, or art; holistic assessments lead to engaged and invested students.

Now that we have established the role of performance assessment in digital learning let’s see how you can master it.

How to Establish an Authentic Assessment

Establishing streamlined authentic assessment measures can seem challenging. However, it can be achieved using these simple yet effective steps. 

1. Keep it Performance-Based and Realistic 

The assessment must generate real contexts to promote real-world problem-solving. Using the right assessment tool can help you facilitate this in online classrooms. To mimic face-to-face interactions, you can conduct debate sessions, panel discussions, or virtual lab activities.

2. Focus on Teamwork and Collaboration

Room for collaboration is another factor that gives authentic assessment an edge over traditional methods.

The sudden online transition has affected students worldwide, especially in social learning situations. Assessments should be designed to involve teamwork, enabling students to build communication and collaboration skills. 

Again, teachers can use digital formative assessment tools to generate simulations, online quizzes, or even group projects to facilitate this.

3. Set Clear Objectives

Besides teamwork, all your objectives with the method should be defined. It ensures the students know what is expected of them while completing the assignment.

A student-centered assessment clarifies the end goal, allowing learners to focus on their development without confusion.

4. Select Relevant Tasks

Once the objectives are set, it is time for you to develop relevant tasks. Since it is a performance-based assessment, the tasks should relate to practices followed by professionals in the field.

Remember that the goal is to help students apply their skills in unique and relevant situations. An example of this would be a Digital Marketing student fetching relevant keywords and strategies for an SEO campaign.

5. Finalize Performance Criteria 

The final step in your assessment for learning is to decide how the students have done. This is similar to the traditional assessment method, where teachers determine how well the students have performed.

Ensure that performance evaluation aligns with the given objectives. The student’s final performance should comply with your criteria to ensure they have achieved relative mastery over the subject.

Also Read: What is the Assessment Rubric for Teachers in Higher Education?

In Conclusion

Online learning has become the standard for education in 2023. Be it the energy-saving properties or the ability to engage users; e-learning is the industry norm now. That is why modern approaches have become crucial to most education institutes.

However, when shifting to authentic assessment methods, a major challenge is setting up the infrastructure, whether it’s a learning management system or content solutions. Partnering with experienced professionals like Hurix Digital can make your transition toward a holistic education experience seamless.