Title

Authentic assessment: An approach to enhance and assess students’ learning

Date of Award

8-1-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

The traditional forms of assessments are generally seen to narrow down the teaching and learning process and they are ineffective in providing essential information on students' learning. It also seems to encourage rote learning rather than the development of students' understanding and thinking skills. In contrast, authentic assessment broadens the process of teaching and learning, and provides the students the opportunity to work on worthwhile and meaningful tasks in the real context, which in turn results in authentic academic achievements (construction of new knowledge through disciplined inquiry, which has value beyond classroom) of students and develops high cognitive skills in them. The main purpose of this study was to explore the approach of implementing authentic assessment. My major question was: “How can I implement authentic assessment to enhance and assess students' learning in a secondary science classroom in a community-based school in Pakistan?” To investigate my research question, I used the qualitative approach as a research methodology. Within the qualitative approach, I used action research and more specifically practical action research. The targeted sample was class eight of a community-based high school in Pakistan. During the study, the data was collected through interviews (group and individual) and classroom observations to understand the process of implementation, students and my actions and roles, post-observation discussions, document analysis such as; students work samples. The other sources of data were my assessment tasks, tools, classroom discussions and my reflective dairy. This research aimed to explore the process of the implementation of authentic assessment to assess and enhance students' learning in a secondary level science classroom. The analysis of the data in the reconnaissance stage revealed that traditional testing (paper-and-pencil test) was the main strategy to assess students' learning in their science class. The assessment happened at the end of the teaching and learning process, assessing only knowledge and low cognitive skill and students' role was limited to test takers. The students rarely received any written feedback or opportunities to link their learning to the real context. The findings of study indicate that authentic assessment helped in enhancing students' learning such as; knowledge about the noise pollution, planning, developing interview questions, interviewing people, preparing posters, giving presentation and responding to audience question. The study also revealed that in authentic assessment the student's role changed from a passive test taker to an active participant in the process of assessment. For example, they identified issue, found out solution, presented it to the community and also took part in the assessment of their own performance through self-assessment. The teacher's role during the authentic assessment changed as a facilitator, helper, encourager and pusher. The study indicates that developing of observation checklists, criteria rubric and sharing it with students before implementation, integration of collaborative assessments (e.g. self-assessment) and collaboration with an expert or colleagues help in smooth implementation of authentic assessment in the science class. The findings of the study suggest that the practitioners should be provided opportunities to understand and sharpen their skills regarding innovative ways of assessment. It is also recommended that the students should provide more opportunities to interact with the real context. The findings of the study also suggest that the teachers should begin authentic assessment in the area in which they feel comfortable with small number of students and slightly with slow and gradual implementation.

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