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R6C3 Authenticity: Do learners recognise routine processes of assessment and feedback as being of personal value?

Traditional assessments measure what a student can recall or do in the formal context of testing....

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Andrew Pollard
5 May 2010

Traditional assessments measure what a student can recall or do in the formal context of testing. By comparison, authentic assessment puts the emphasis on the meaningful application in real-life situations (Wiggins, 1989). Rather than being required to simply demonstrate performance for an artificial purpose, the learner has the opportunity to apply their growing knowledge and capability to genuine activity. The task, and feedback on it, is thus more personally meaningful. Authentic assessment is likely to affirm those who have the deeper levels of skill and understanding which are needed for application.

Overcoming the artificiality of school so that new knowledge can be grounded in the ‘real world’ is not easy. Project work is a long-standing strategy and the internet and new technologies now provide wonderful resources. There are many contemporary initiatives to promote ‘real-world learning’, primarily because transfer of school learning in, for instance, Maths and Science, consistently proves to be difficult.

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