Integrate Authentic Assessment with Traditional Assessment


In the “Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning”, Marilyn Lombardi compared authentic assessment with traditional assessment. According to the information provided in Table 1, traditional assessments seem to have few positive characteristics. Thus, a movement from traditional assessment to authentic assessment improves teaching and learning (see more from Grant Wiggins’s “A True Test: Toward More Authentic and Equitable Assessment” and “The Case for Authentic Assessment“). From my experience, some mix of the two seem to be more appropriate and beneficial.

As an instructor of an introductory Remote Sensing course, I applied traditional assessment tools (multiple-choice quizzes, short-answer exams, and essays) and authentic assessment (hands-on experiments, computer labs, and class projects). The combination of the two improves teaching and learning. Quizzes, which only have five multiple choice questions covering basic concepts and key ideas of a former lecture each time, help me measure students’ acquisition of knowledge and my teaching quality. When students made mistakes, they didn’t acquire the knowledge because of their misunderstanding or my unclear explanation. Then I can find another way to explain the concept clearly. The relationship between the time used to answer each question and accuracy of the question can reflect students’ learning in some way —shorter time with higher accuracy means students are likely acquire the knowledge, longer time with lower or even higher accuracy means students are not familiar with the knowledge, and shorter tiem with lower accuracy means students do not care. Hands-on experiments and computer labs, which are designed to introduce various useful equipments, software, and skills, help students apply the knowledge to solve real-world problems. Then students developed their own class projects related to their interests and I talked more about the topics they focused but not well covered in former classes. Authentic assessment complements traditional assessment but it increases my workload. My advisor is always trying to find a better way to mix the two for a large class.

2 thoughts on “Integrate Authentic Assessment with Traditional Assessment”

  1. I agree that balance and moderation is generally a good rule of thumb for most things, including learning. I also think that the combination of authentic and traditional assessments is the best route to pursue, instead of entirely relying on a single method. I also liked how you talked about tests as kind of an assessment for the professor as well–if the students all do badly on a particular question, the professor may see that he/she needs to better explain that concept. Thanks for the post!

  2. It is important to see this mixing of methods. Think of your class and the assessment styles as a living document. Stuff that goes well is retained, things that don’t get reviewed and updated. The class evolves with the times.

    What is the best part is that we recognized that the professor changes and responds based on feedback as well. Thanks for sharing your way of teaching with us.

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