18 June 2008

0 A Closer Look at Assessments: Alternative Assessments (Part 2 of 4)

There are three types of commonly used terms for assessments:

  • Alternative
  • Authentic
  • Performance Based

Alternative assessments are assessments which requires the student to produce a cognitive response rather than select from predetermined choices (i.e. multiple choice questions, fill in the blank, true/false, etc). Alternative assessments may range from:

  • Having a student explain the reasoning of a math problem.
  • Concept mapping.
  • Constructing brochures
  • Portfolios
  • Projects
  • Journals
  • Open ended responses
  • Interviews
  • Video/audio tapes
  • Exhibitions
  • Experiments
  • Demonstrations that provide evidence of knowledge and skills.

Authentic assessments focus on the student’s analytical skills and their abilities to demonstrate their knowledge/competency of a skill. It also allows the student to apply these skills in “real-world” contexts. Authentic assessments may range from the student:

  • Participating in a debate.
  • Reading/interpretation of literature.
  • Solving math problems which have real-world applications.

Performance based assessments are “student-centered”, as they require the student to (both) apply and demonstrate their knowledge/skill. Students create products, exhibitions, or performances to demonstrate evidence of their understanding of essential ideas, knowledge, processes, and skills. Specific examples may include:

  • Dramatizing a favorite story
  • Drawing and writing about a story
  • Reading aloud a personally meaningful section of a stor
  • Conducting experiments
  • Writing extended essays
  • Performing mathematical computations
  • WebQuests
  • Debates

Is There a Difference Between the Three?
If authentic assessments are performance assessments using real-world or authentic tasks, is it possible for these terms to be treated synonymously?

In various educational circles, these terms may be treated synonymously, as they assess both the process and end result - often including real-life tasks which promote higher-order thinking skills. They require individuals to apply knowledge and skill in context—not simply completing a task on cue.

Essentially, performance based assessments are authentic in nature, yet they often are an alternative to traditional assessments.

A means to evaluate/ measure both process and product is to utilize a rubric. A rubric measures a stated objective using a range to rate the student’s performance. Characteristics are arranged in levels, indicating the degree to which a standard has been met. Rubrics will be the topic of discussion in next month’s issue.

Stay tuned for part 3 of 4 on Authentic Assessments


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