Investigating Authentic Assessment for Student Learning in Higher Education

Thu Thuy Vu (2011). Investigating Authentic Assessment for Student Learning in Higher Education PhD Thesis, The School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author Thu Thuy Vu
Thesis Title Investigating Authentic Assessment for Student Learning in Higher Education
School, Centre or Institute The School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-11
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Assoc Prof Gloria Dall'Alba
Dr Ann Webster-Wright
Total pages 218
Total black and white pages 218
Language eng
Subjects 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
130103 Higher Education
130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
Abstract/Summary In the context of a growing interest in teaching and learning quality in higher education, assessment is currently receiving renewed attention on the educational agenda internationally for its potential in enhancing student learning. Authentic assessment has been proposed as a form of assessment for promoting student learning. Conventionally, authentic assessment is regarded as an educational intervention for improving students’ performance via a strengthened link with the world beyond formal education. Assessment is considered authentic when the assessment task is realistic and/or has real-world value. This study draws on phenomenology and, in particular, the work of Martin Heidegger to challenge this conceptualisation of authentic assessment as too narrow and limited. While authenticity inherently has a real-world dimension, it need not be considered as an attribute of tasks. Rather, authenticity is a quality of educational processes that engage students in becoming more fully human. In the mode of authenticity, we take responsibility for who we are. We call things into question, challenge public assumptions and strive to define the stand we take on our being. Within this reconceptualisation of authenticity, the task of authentic assessment is to assess student learning, while at the same time enhancing the extent to which students integrate what they know and how they act with who they are becoming. In this way, authentic assessment can increase students’ awareness of who they are becoming and contribute to the process whereby they strive for authenticity. In line with this ontological approach to authentic assessment, an ethnographic design in the form of three case studies is adopted to investigate empirically the lived experience of authentic assessment practices in three university courses. The assessment practices in these courses are considered to be authentic by the course coordinators in that they contribute to preparing students for life and work beyond formal education. The study has four objectives: (a) to identify what characterises authentic assessment in higher education; (b) to investigate how teachers use assessment they consider to be authentic; (c) to explore how the students experience these assessment practices in relation to their learning; and (d) to seek implications of authentic assessment for enhancing student learning in higher education, in general, and assessment practices, in particular. In this study, I make three main contributions to the educational research literature. First, I make a theoretical contribution in terms of critiquing and extending a conventional conceptualisation of authentic assessment in proposing and elaborating an ontological conceptualisation. Second, I make a methodological contribution in designing and demonstrating an alternative way to analyse curriculum and its integrity through highlighting ontological aspects. Third, I make an empirical contribution through investigating how teachers in higher education used assessment practices and how their students experienced the assessment as enhancing their learning. While authentic assessment has previously been demonstrated empirically to be beneficial for preparing students for their future, I identify spaces for more fully integrating ontology into specific courses in order to encourage students to respond to the call to be authentic. The study is timely given the renewed focus internationally on assessment in the nexus with student learning. Increased insights into the theory and practices of authentic assessment in higher education can be expected to throw light on pedagogical processes and, more specifically, assessment practices for enhancing student learning.
Keyword assessment, authentic, inauthentic, student learning, being-in-the-world, becoming, professional practice, ontology, real-world, higher education
Additional Notes 72: Landscape

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Created: Sun, 25 Mar 2012, 14:52:51 EST by Thu Thuy Vu on behalf of Library - Information Access Service