Skip to Main ContentSearch Site

Connecting Learning with Authentic Assessment

Connecting Learning with Authentic Assessment

As educators, we aim to provide quality instruction to our students and prepare them for success not just in college, but in their future careers. One way we can make learning more meaningful is by connecting it to life beyond the classroom with authentic assessments that mirror real-world scenarios. Let us explore some ideas for authentic assessments and how they empower more engaged, enjoyable, and effective learning for students. 

What is Authentic Assessment? 

Authentic assessments evaluate student learning and skills through activities that closely match real-life contexts. For example, instead of a multiple-choice test, students might be asked to write a business report or create a marketing campaign, pitch a new product in a group presentation, or conduct a scientific experiment in a lab setting.  

Authentic assessments foster more meaningful learning because students see first-hand connections between academics and life/work contexts. Research shows authentic learning experiences boost engagement, motivation, aspirations, and concept retention because they are: 

  • Active: learners get opportunities to directly apply knowledge and skills rather than passively receive content. 
  • Collaborative: most often authentic assessments are not done in isolation and require collaboration and team effort. Even individual assignments might require collaborating with peers on conducting research first and discussing ideas (for example, on a discussion board). 
  • Goal-oriented: authentic assessments align with learner career interests.  
  • Focus on higher-order thinking: authentic assessments are complex, and students must use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to complete tasks.

How Do I Implement Authentic Assessments? 

As an expert in your field, you will know best what type of project would align with your discipline. To develop authentic assessments, think about what type of projects graduates will be involved in in the workplace. Below, we provide a couple of ideas to get you started thinking about what could be possible in your course.  

  • Math - create functional budgets, building plans or analytics reports. 
  • History - Curate museum-style exhibits analyzing evidence and interpretations
  • Literacy - Write blogs on a subject to inform various audiences
  • Health sciences - Develop comprehensive lifestyle plans on nutrition, exercise, stress, etc.

Explore additional resources on authentic assessment:  

Share on Social Media