The Future of Assessments
Performance-based assessment requires students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and strategies by creating a product or process; it requires students to perform the task instead of writing about it or answering questions about it. For example, an authentic performance task in sciences requires a student to conduct research on the impacts of fertilizer on local groundwater and then report the results through an informational brochure. These assessments are authentic as it imitates real-world scenarios and issues.
With the socio-economic demands for a highly skilled workforce, teachers need to design performance-based assessments. Another pressing reason is the paradigm shift in approaches to teaching and learning; with hybrid and online teaching, assessments need to be performance-based to be authentic. Traditional paper-pencil tests are obsolete and archaic, hence the future of assessments is performance-based authentic assessments.
Performance-based assessments are a very effective way of assessing and teaching. These assessments engage the students in hands-on activities and help them develop skills by solving real-life problems. It aligns with contemporary learning theories and also helps teachers employ best practices in teaching and learning. Performance assessments reflect how students acquire and use knowledge, they can include research projects, STEM investigations, mathematical and computer modelling. This approach helps to foster critical thinking skills and conceptual understanding while providing an authentic learning experience to the students.
Three Big Ideas
Here are three big ideas for designing performance-based assessments tasks:
- Focus on the purpose of the task: Since performance-based tasks are dynamic and can be created to suit the learner’s needs and context, I would advise new teachers to focus on creating tasks that enhance the students conceptual understanding of the subject.
- Design student-centered or student-led activities: Performance-based assessment tasks should be completed by students to demonstrate what they know about a given topic. The difference between this type of assessment and the traditional method is that students can better communicate what they know and how they know it.
- Define the criteria for success: Once a teacher has listed the learning objectives and the performance assessments tasks that can be done to achieve the objectives, they should list the criteria for success. The criteria should define everything that is expected from the students through the performance-based assessment. For example, the material required, the content knowledge, the online resources and the ways to get the task completed. Without defining the criteria a teacher cannot successfully implement performance-based assessments.
A Few Roadblocks
Teachers might find it challenging to design and implement performance-based assessments. This is mostly because these assessments move away from traditional types of assessments and sometimes teachers are not trained to create such tasks. A big challenge is the lack of teacher training, therefore schools and organisations need to invest in teacher training for addressing challenges related to creating authentic assessments.
Another major challenge is the time and effort required to create these tasks. Some strategies to overcome this challenge is to plan in advance and focus on achievable goals instead of starting a huge project that takes up a lot of time and students lose interest.
Here are my top five tips for designing authentic performance-based assessments :
- Align performance-based assessments with learning objectives to make them meaningful for the students as they understand the purpose.
- Make the assessment realistic, relevant and contextual, students are quickly disengaged if the task is not age-specific or at par with their ability.
- Keep the assessment student-centred, they should have an option of how they want to complete it and articulate their understanding.
- Plan for group tasks, students get an opportunity to discuss, collaborate and complete the task without anxiety or stress.
- Allow students to reflect on their process of learning, this helps them to identify how they can learn best.
Design the future of assessments by designing authentic performance-based assessments.