Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Case for Authentic Assessment

The Case for Authentic Assessment. This is a text of an ERIC Digest from 1990. I find it apt for me now as I struggle to find ways to assess the library instruction program at my library.

Most of our instruction is one-shot. The librarians usually have 50 minutes to teach about library skills. How do we assess it? Surveys after class are always positive. The instructors who bring their classes to library are always grateful. It is real tough to test and see if the instruction the library provides has any real term impact.

So, I am all for authentic assessment. I guess I'll just need to conduct more research (and discover that even more of the assessment plans written about by other librarians do not work!) before finding what will work here.

From the site:

Assessment is authentic when we directly examine student performance on worthy intellectual tasks. Traditional assessment, by contract, relies on indirect or proxy 'items'--efficient, simplistic substitutes from which we think valid inferences can be made about the student's performance at those valued challenges.

Do we want to evaluate student problem-posing and problem-solving in mathematics? experimental research in science? speaking, listening, and facilitating a discussion? doing document-based historical inquiry? thoroughly revising a piece of imaginative writing until it "works" for the reader? Then let our assessment be built out of such exemplary intellectual challenges.

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