Bring real-world problems into assessments

Real-world problem is not usually reflected on written exams [1]. Incorporating the real-world tests into teaching and assessment can help students better prepare for their career, and this may also be a motivator for students to engage more with a course, especially when they intend to work in industry. My concern is that: how much teachers and professors in colleges aware of and understand the real-world problems in their own field? How difficult it is to include real-world problems into both teaching and assessments? I guess that, comparing to traditional assessments, the evaluation of students’ capability and creativity regarding solving real-world problem is more complex and challenging. Even though many classes have included real-world examples for teaching, few has examined the effectiveness of current authentic assessments.

I have a personal experience about the divergence of the real-world-problem based teaching and the authentic assessment. I have been in a Business College for my bachelor degree in Beijing, and many courses have tried to connect with the real-world practices. We had a lot of group projects on business cases, and we have even participated in a real estate planning and marketing for a famous company. Finally, I can feel that my communication and coordination skills have improved, but this course is graded mostly based on our ranking in the project competition with other groups (which was not high) and I have never received any feedback from the lecturers about our insufficient performance and how we might improve. Now as a PhD student in the College of Engineering, many courses I selected are more theoretical and methodological, I have less opportunity to digest them in a real-world context and many assessments relied on grading-based assignments and a final exam. I guess that there is a difference of assessment among distinct disciplines and the types of courses, but it is still very important to get connections with real world problems consistently during teaching, assessments and feedback.  I will keep exploring the pedagogies to better combine theory and reality in assessments and feedbacks for my future students.

[1] Lombardi, M.M., 2008. Making the grade: The role of assessment in authentic learning. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.


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3 Responses to Bring real-world problems into assessments

  1. Jyotsana Sharma says:

    Interesting post Yan. I am wondering whether you have any suggestions regarding how you could have been graded during the projects you talked about and by who? Maybe people in the field or a panel for example.

    • Yan says:

      Yeah, that’s what I expected. I was OKay with the grading based on the ranking at that time, but at least, I think I should be provided with some feedbacks from the teacher or the experts from the real estate company.

  2. jschlittepi says:

    This is a tricky thing to juggle as a doctoral student! Your knowledge may be useless without skills in implementation, yet your ability to graduate will be limited by a disinterest in theory. Per feedback, how do you feel about zero sum grading programs such as at Cornell and William and Mary?

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