DePaul University Center for Teaching & Learning > Assessment > Assessing Learning > Non-Traditional Assessment Models
When faculty and staff approach the Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance with planning their annual assessment projects, we tend to suggest certain strategies that do not always resonate well with them. Why does this happen?
Consider the illustration below:
We will generally recommend the path with the arrow to get from the house to the castle. This is not because it is the only path or the best path, but simply because it is the shortest path.
However, we also recognize that there may be instances where it will make more sense for you to take one of the alternate paths – that sometimes you might be metaphorically interested in the beach or the yellow tent and the shortest path is not the most logical path for you to take.
It is in this spirit that we present to you some of these alternative assessment models.
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Authentic assessment is based on students’ abilities to perform meaningful tasks they may have to do in the “real world.” In other words, this form of assessment determines students’ learning in a manner that goes beyond multiple choice tests and quizzes.
Authentic assessment has several advantages over traditional assessment, summarized in the table below.
Wiggins, Grant (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation. 2(2).
Here are some suggestions for developing an authentic assessment:
The basic premise of authentic assessment is that if you want to know how well someone golfs, the best way to assess it is to have that person play a round of golf.
There are several critical elements to consider before deciding to use authentic assessment.
Before deciding to implement authentic assessment, you should consider the following two questions:
Additionally, you should take the following things into consideration:
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Authentic assessment looks at students’ progress in developing skills, abilities, values, etc., rather than evaluating students’ final products.
Not every type of learning is best assessed by looking at the quality of a final product. In fact, sometimes there is no expectation that students should, or even could, fully develop in the assessed area by the end of a course or program. An example of this is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Theoretically, very few people ever fully develop to the final “self-actualized” stage. A few advantages of authentic assessment are:
Developmental assessments require some sort of pre- post- design. If you would like to know how much a student has developed their knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or values, you need to measure that information at the beginning of a learning experience, then again at the end.
Example: One could administer a test at the beginning of a class, then ask the same students to take the same test at the end of a class. By comparing students’ performances on the pre- and post-tests, an instructor could determine students’ levels of development.
Methodologies tend to rely on observational and work sampling techniques that continually focus on performance, processes, and products over selected periods of time and in a variety of contexts.
Example: An instructor may compare two work samples using a developmental rubric to determine students’ levels of development.
Developmental assessment requires a theory of how students develop the knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or values you intend to measure. The person or people conducting the assessment need to have good knowledge of the stages through which students progress as they develop. Developmental assessment necessarily requires some sort of a pre- post- assessment design.
Emergent assessment is a model based on Michael Scriven’s (1967) goal free evaluation model. With emergent assessment, assessment is structured using “effects” rather than learning outcomes. This model honors the idea that you may bias your assessment by specifically defining what you are looking for (i.e. when you focus exclusively on a learning outcome, you may be ‘putting on blinders’ regarding the other things that may be happening with student learning). This assessment model tends to be more qualitative in nature.
Emergent Assessment addresses concerns about inquiry shared by many disciplines, particularly those disciplines that tend to use more qualitative methodologies. A few examples of these concerns are:
Profile the actual effects of instruction or educational program against demonstrated needs of students who complete a course or program.
Create a profile of the needs of students who finish your course, graduate from your program (that goes beyond what you intend to deliver).
Identify effects of educational program on students’ learning using primarily direct methods, considering
Compare the information gained in step one with the information gained in step two.
Methodologies may include anything that includes a global, comprehensive look at student work, behavior, performance, attitudes, and values to determine what affect the academic program is having.
Scriven, M. (1967). The methodology of evaluation. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives on curriculum evaluation, (p. 39-83). Chicago: Rand-McNally.
Learning-Oriented assessment is assessment that has the purpose of bringing about deep and meaningful learning for student. This is a course-based type of assessment that focuses on students’ learning rather than instructors’ teaching.
Huba, M.E. & Freed, J.E. (2000). Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses. Allyn and Bacon: Boston.
Here are some suggestions for developing a learning-oriented assessment for a course:
Methodologies tend to focus more on formative assessment and classroom assessment strategies. All assessment methodologies should have the purpose of contributing to students’ learning
This type of assessment breaks down the barrier between instructors and students
Before deciding to implement learning-oriented assessment, you should consider the following two questions:
Huba, M.E. & Freed, J.E. (2000). Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses. Allyn and Bacon: Boston, MA.
Knight, P. (1995). Assessment for Learning in Higher Education. Kogan Page: London.
Maki, P. (2010). Assessing for Learning. Stylus: Sterling, VA.