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Authentic Assessment

by Vira Gryaznova, May 31, 2021

the university building
Learning Scenario

It was a course of Web-programming for second-year students of Computer Engineering (120 total hours, 4 ECTS credits), held twice in 2016 (spring and autumn) at Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University by me, Vira Gryaznova.

The subject of the course included an overview of HTTP protocol, modern Web-standards (in particular, HTML, CSS, and DOM), JavaScript language (with JQuery library), the technology of asynchronous messaging Ajax, security issues concerning WWW.

The learning objectives of the course were familiarization of students with base concepts and methods of web development, good web-programming style.

The learning outcomes were as follows: a student should know the base principles of the HTTP protocol, base functionality of a browser, main security issues concerning WWW, know and be able to use modern web standards, essential principles of development with JavaScript language.

The final score was a result of interim ratings (60 out of 100) and test (40 out of 100). The authentic assessment was one of the interim rating activities.

Authentic Assessment

During the course, the students should create a website containing several pages and demonstrating usage of the course learning material. They could choose the topic of the website by themselves (as an example, there was proposed to create a mini-website of their hometown or district, but they were free to choose any other topic, that wouldn’t be in contradiction with the law).  


The requirements for the assessment were as follows:

the authentic assessment rubric

The maximum possible total score for this assignment was 46/100.

Additionally, at the end of the semester, there was organized a contest of the students’ websites, where students anonymously voted for 6 best works of their peers (scores from 1 to 6), and the winners of this contest (best 6) increased their total scores respectively (from 1 to 6). The reason for the competition was to engage the students not only in satisfying the technical requirements of the assignments but also in developing their visual and UI/UX skills. The information of this contest, as well as all the requirements listed above, were known by students from the very beginning of the course.

This assessment was authentic as it gave the chance to taste real web development. All the components of the assignments could be used in the development of an admin Web interface to a custom corporate website system (and in fact, some students used this chance for their following job experiences).

Learning theories usage

The assessment foundation concept is project-based learning, which is, in its turn, has its roots in constructivism learning theory and is widely applied in adult learning environments.

Students were free to choose the topic of their website, its content, and its form, as long as they stay in compliance with the technical requirements. This freedom of choice is also a feature of constructivist and andragogy approaches.

The peer review of general requirements compliance made possible the communication between students and their mutual learning. This is an example of connectivism in action. This part of the assignment also demonstrates cognitivist features, as it appeals to reflects on the importance to follow the common industry guidelines and good user experience, and also is an example of feedback cognitive strategy usage.

The students could decide by themselves whether or not to comply with the optional requirements. The motivation to comply with them remained external, at least partially, because of the extra scores. On the other side, the motivation could be also internal, as these requirements made possible the development of additional useful skills. Here we have a combination of behavioristic (additional scores) and cognitive (understanding of usefulness) approaches.

The contest was an element of gamification and made the learning experience on the course more engaging. This is a behavioristic feature, as winning the contest can be very stimulating for competition-lovers. I need to mention that as the scores that could be achieved as the result of the contest, was not included in total scores of 100 and could be used only to compensate non-perfectness of some other course activities, the non-winners of the contest were not demotivated.   

Knowing all the assessment requirements beforehand made it possible for students to adjust their efforts and make the proper accents while working with the course materials. This correlates to one of the andragogy principles.


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