Wiggins (1998) posits that authentic assessment is an approach that developed out of concern that conventional assessment instruments tend to focus on the more superficial and easily tested aspects of knowledge and do not replicate the kinds of challenges that adults face in the workplace. The objective of authentic assessment is to test students’ knowledge and abilities in real-world situations. Instead of students reciting, restating, or replicating concepts that are already known, they reproduce tasks by carrying out the kind of exploration and work that constitutes ‘doing’ the discipline. Authentic assessment requires students to integrate multiple elements of judgment, innovation and the efficient and effective use of knowledge and skills in order to negotiate complex tasks or solve complex problems. Lastly, authentic assessment is a formative process allowing students ample time to practice and build confidence. Informative feedback is given by the instructor to ensure students can perform tasks successfully to real-world expectations.
Authenticity will be an important value to me in assessing students in the metal fabrication classroom and shop setting. Almost 50% of the curriculum (ITA, n.d) pertains to student demonstrations relating to real-life tasks performed in the workplace. If a student is able to successfully perform a task in the classroom, they should then be able to perform the task in the work environment. Authentic assessment can be a motivator to students if I develop and focus tasks on content that is relevant to them. Another advantage to authentic assessment is due to the complexity of tasks, this allows for a range of responses that can encourage students to work within their optimal challenge zone. Because most authentic assessments require a judgement of the degree of quality, they tend toward the subjective end of the assessment scale. For that reason, it is important to use authentic assessment tools, such as rating guides, rubrics, and task lists that will help to ensure validity in the content as it relates to the relative criterion-referenced standards in a metal fabrication program (ITA, n.d).
The significance of authentic assessment for me is that it can be used as a tool to determine if students’ knowledge can be applied outside of the classroom. This means that assessments in metal fabrication should involve performing demonstrations and solving problems the same way that a metal fabricator would perform them to industry standards. To be effective in improving on my future teaching and learning, assessment strategies should involve the following steps (Fenton, Watkins, 2008, pp. 6-7):
- Identify a learning goal.
- Select an assessment technique that will measure to what extent the goal has been achieved using rating guides, rubrics, or checklists.
- Apply the assessment technique.
- Analyze the results of the assessment, share and provide feedback of the results with the students.
- Respond to the results and implement any necessary changes in teaching strategies or course content
There are four (4) measurements used to determine the nature of the learning outcomes in authentic assessment, product, process, product and process, and progress. Typically in metal fabrication, of the 4P’s, the measurements that would be utilized of importance would be both product and process. There is a strict adherence to how something is made (process), and there is usually always something produced or manufactured (product).
As a future metal fabrication instructor, one example of how I would apply an assessment technique is to utilize a combination of a checklist and a rating guide. This measurement technique would be important in ensuring critical sequential steps are followed correctly, to document these steps in the process, and to judge and determine the quality of the final product. For example, if the leaning goal or outcome is to assess students making a metal tin box, the rating guide is used to rate students’ ability relative to pattern development and to the forming and joining processes.
- In this criterion-referenced evaluation, the student’s performance is compared to established criterion-referenced standards rather than to the performance of other students.
- Learning outcomes are based on the provincially prescribed curriculum organizers for Metal Fabrication in the Red Seal NOC standard 7235.
- The rating guide/checklist and the prototype model box are both discussed with the class prior to students beginning their own projects.
- During, and at the end of my demonstration, I will ask students for clarification and assess if they completely understood what was expected of them and compare these results to the checklist. Additional demonstration and feedback may be necessary.
- Students are then asked to undertake a self-evaluation of their procedures using a five-point rating scale, keyed to each of the criteria defined for materials, and for forming and joining processes for a metal tin box.
- I will also complete an identical evaluation of each student’s work based on the knowledge and skills associated with each of their projects. Discrepancies between my evaluation and the student’s evaluations are discussed individually with each student. The two evaluations are blended together to create an overall final grade for the materials, forming and joining aspects, and final product of the learning module.
- I will constantly monitor and observe students’ performance to ensure they follow safe work procedures, work well with other students, and clean and replace tools in their work areas.
- I will also observe students’ ability to accurately measure and lay out components by checking students’ patterns before they begin to cut material.
- Final observations will be made as students select and use the correct tools to cut the sheet metal, and observe the students’ ability to form and join materials to produce a high-quality, accurate box.
- Boxes are submitted for my evaluation according to criteria on this ‘Tin Box checklist / Rating Guide.’
Authentic assessment engages students and is based on content in which the students actually have a genuine interest. It asks students to synthesize information and to use critical-thinking skills. It measures not just what the student remembers, but how they think. Finally, authentic assessment helps students understand where they are academically, and helps teachers to know how to best teach them the skills they need in order to be successful in the workplace.
Authentic Assessment. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authentic_assessment
Barkley, E. (2010). Student engagement techniques. A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 29-30.
Fenton, C., Watkins, B. (2008). Learner-centered assessment: Real strategies for today’s students. Phoenix, AZ: League for Innovation in the Community College, pp. 6-7.
Program Outline Metal Fabricator (p. 15). ITA. Retrieved from http://www.itabc.ca/sites/default/files/program-information/metal-fabricator-program-outline-april-2015.pdf
Red Seal Program. (n.a.). Red Seal. Retrieved from http://www.red-seal.ca/trades/m.2t.1l_f.1b-eng.html
Vancouver Community College. (2016). Provincial Instructors’ Diploma Program, Course 3230 Course Manual. Author, Vancouver, BC. Retrieved from http://moodle.vcc.ca/course/view.php?id=4168
Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative assessment. Designing assessments to inform and improve student performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 23-24