Monday, August 6, 2012

Authentic Assessment in China

Teaching in China has taught me the importance of Authentic Assessment. Mainly, because it is a relatively new idea here. The first standardized tests were created in this ancient country, and the idea of assessing students any other way is considered bizarre. However, it is the way I teach and I think over time my colleagues have come to understand the importance of incorporating tasks (although at first I am sure they just thought I was a crazy American with no classroom management skills).

I wanted to share with you today how I explained authentic assessment and some quick steps for creating tasks that work great in the classroom.

What exactly is Authentic Assessment? 
This is something that I thought I knew, but I recently came accross a great definition in the book Breaking Free from the myths about Teaching and Learning by: Alison Zmuda.

Zmuda defined Authentic Assessment as "more than a hands on experience, integration of technology or identification of an audience...Authenticity referst to the degree to which the task mirrowrs the work, processes and formats that govern the work of professionals in a field or discipline." Wow - I always though that if I supplied students with something hands-on then I was using something authentic!

Quick Steps for Creating an Authentic Assessment:
1. Choose a topic, standard or learning goal that you want to assess.
2. Think of a question(s) that should be answered at the end of the task.
3. Come up with a real-world or real-life task that students can perform.
4. Formulate guidelines that will help the students to understand exactly what you are looking for.

Sample Task: 
Step One: Topic - Space Exploration

Step Two: What should be considered when planning a mission to mars?

Step Three: Students will be choose different specialties in order to work together and plan a mission to mars. Students must consider all areas of the mission from food to the possibility of hitting space debris.

Step Four: Created a rubric and task explanation for each specialty.

Sharing Ideas during Space Camp Task

I hope that these simple steps will help you in your class! Please feel free to share other ideas or tips in the comments area below :)

~ Jessi
Life on the Fourth

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