Two Challenges of Authentic Assessment


The readings of this week remind me of Bloom’s Taxonomy, where it categorizes learning into 6 cognitive learning levels, from rudimentary learning to advanced learning: remember, understand, apply, analyze, create and evaluate. The traditional assessment focuses more on checking the cognitive learning level 1-3 (remember, understand and apply), while the authentic assessment focuses more on the level 4-6 learning (analyze, create and evaluate).


This authentic assessment is more time consuming than the traditional one, as Lombardi and Oblinger also mentioned in their paper, therefore it is harder for professor to adopt it given the time constraint within current tenure track evaluation system. I know most university offers position of instructor, who serves 100% duty in teaching. By doing that, the teachers can spend more time in designing the classes and assessing students’ performance to facilitate higher cognitive learning. This 100% teaching based placement is good. But the fact is people still value research higher than teaching. If instructor doesn’t obtain similar recognition as the research based professor in their tenure track (if there is one), then it would be a discouragement for the 100% teaching based instructor. So the way I see this change from traditional assessment to authentic assessment is more of the evolution of the university assessment system on teachers and professors as a whole, rather than the change of teachers alone.


The second challenge comes from the subjectiveness in authentic assessment. The evaluation of cognitive learning level 4-6 is more subjective than the traditional one. Therefore we would always assume that the teacher would be at a better (or higher) position to evaluate students. However, this won’t always be true, especially in fields like arts. I am even more suspicious as I read “Imagination First” by Eric Liu and Scott Nppe-Drandon. The authors try to demystify imagination. But the authors failed to say that imagination is judged by what standards. The appreciation of imagination is even more subjective than the authentic assessment. Therefore who would have the authority to judge?  What if the teacher fails to notice the value of the assessments of a genius?  Like Van Gogh, whose painting was not appreciated by audiences of his time, thus led a poor and miserable life. Those are the questions I think we, as a teacher, need to keep in mind when we assess students.


8 thoughts on “Two Challenges of Authentic Assessment”

  1. Hi Yangliang, thanks for bringing the situation of the education system! As the authors you mentioned points out, the education system puts a lot of burden on the instructors. Most of the instructors have to deal with various tasks unrelated to teaching that makes the teaching as a “burden” rather than a purpose, in which (in)directly effect the students to perceive the classes as burden too. I definitely agree with you that, the change needs to happen in the educational system, not only with regard to teachers alone.

  2. I really liked the points you made. If the instructors are not treated with similar respect to research faculties, I think the creativity in teaching/assessment may not come. The good teachers must be given incentives for their good work as researchers. This will motivate new graduate students, who are really good in teaching to not just look for research positions but also instructor positions. The second point is correct, but I think it is really tough to come up with subjective assessment techniques.

  3. One small question: with which words did you make the world cloud? Is it with the words in your blog? Just curious about it…looks cool though.

    1. Yes, I used the words of this blog. Hopefully this wordle will give the readers some general information before they dive into the blog.

  4. I agree with you that if instructors/teaching can not be valued as same as researchers/research, education may not be able to keep improving. Not only students need incentives to keep learning, teachers are also need appropriate incentive to make progress. Also, if there is not enough funding for teaching, instructors may not have enough opportunities to communicate each other (seminar, conferences etc.), or develop new technologies in teaching. Besides, it is beneficial for students if teachers focuses more on the level 4-6 learning (analyze, create and evaluate), and students are evaluated by their ability on applying knowledge in solving problems rather than just remembering something.

  5. I particularly appreciate your second paragraph, where you mention the need for professors with 100% teaching assignments to be equally recognized as those with a heavier research component. The current trend at the university system, however, and especially at land-grant institutions, is to promote the research side of faculty, which from what I am experiencing, inevitable leads to a lack of attention towards the teaching side. As you put it, if you have to juggle teaching and research, traditional assessment makes your life a lot easier.

  6. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something concerning this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *