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Authentic Assessment: Towards a transformative and democratic practice Dr Andrew Armitage
Authenticity – In summary • Authenticity demands: • Trustworthiness • An authoritative stance, that are independent of bias and self interest – an objective opinion if you will that takes its origins from equally independent standards of evidence or knowledge which is open to public scrutiny. • Transparency, the process of arriving at an authoritative opinion.
Towards an authentic education: Learning to dialogue • The word ‘dialogical’ suggests conversations between actors in a drama directed towards exploration of subject or resolution of problems – dialogue is a transformational practice. • Exploration is considered open ended and problems that involve others and need to be resolved are approached through conversations that aim to be amicable and respect and include individual voice. • Freire (1972) believed it should be through dialogue that the differences between groups as well as individuals are resolved or accommodated. • Dialogue can be an aid to understanding in the context of identifying and synthesising perceived differences . • We accentuate the immediate, spoken, conversational connotations of dialogue and involves a form of personal intimacy and mutual understanding conducive to learning and power sharing.
What is Authentic Assessment? • First, it requires that teachers and students have to engage in democratic and transparent processes against objective standards that are accepted by everyone. • Second it elicits Higher Order Thinking (HOT) because authentic assessment affects those who are to be assessed in their learning contexts that are real/mirror reality (social, political and cultural). • Third, classroom learning to be authentically assessed has to utilise the professional and working standards set/validated by external bodies. • Fourth, authentic assessment gives the possibility of multiple human judgments and discourse in the assessment process. This requires that transparency and open dialogue are central to the process. • Fifth, authentic assessment inculcates classroom activity and content, hence the idea that a critical pedagogy cannot exit without re-enforcing an authentic assessment rubric.
Authentic Assessment: Towards a definition • Authentic assessment requires students to apply their collective abilities, relevant skills and knowledge to a task or activity within the context of real-life scenarios and problem-resolution environments. It evaluates what a person has learned or can do against objective, trustworthy and transparent universally accepted assessment processes and criteria. Authentic assessment examines the person in the context of reality-as-it-is.
Conclusions • What I advocate is a university education challenges us to question how individuals can reach their full potential as human beings. • It is a position that espouses that every person should have freedom of thought to judge independently and one that places its values in the freedom intellectual endeavour. • It is a position necessitates by a code of ethics whereby an individual’s life is the ultimate standard of value (Rand, 1957). • As Grey (2005) notes, we have a: • ‘contract of cynicism whereby students accept, and faculty delivers knowledge which both know to be virtually useless’
Conclusions • This will not be easy, especially in the face of the UK governments programme to widen participation alongside funding mechanisms that find many universities struggling to keep up with demand. • However, whether we see some universities become predominantly research or teaching focused institutions the academic community cannot abandon critical discourse between themselves and their students and must reject Bertrand Russell’s quip that: • ‘Most people would die sooner than think; in fact they do so’.