This is reflected and encouraged through:
Authentic assessment is always, by definition, relevant to the discipline. Villarroel et al (2018, p841) defines authentic assessment as ‘aim[ing] to integrate what happens in the classroom with employment, replicating the tasks and performance standards typically faced by professionals in the world of work’.
Two aspects of authentic assessment include:
For example, in-class, industry or discipline-based case studies and case studies within formal examinations can have high authenticity but are low proximity, whilst job shadowing has low authenticity but high or close proximity. Work integrated learning (WIL) is where we see high authenticity and close proximity assessment integrated.
Villarroel et al (2018) identify three common dimensions of authentic assessment:
Providing more authentic assessment doesn’t necessarily require a wholesale redesign of existing assessment. However, effective design of authentic assessment needs to be systematic. Villarroel et al. (2018) propose a four-step process:
The development and implementation of student-tutor consensus marking (Thompson et al., 2017) is one example of this cycle in action.
Billett (2011, p1) found that
merely providing practice-based experiences for students is insufficient unless those experiences are enriched through preparation, engagement and opportunities to share and reconcile what has been contributed by these experiences.
The need for a staged and scaffolded design, implementation and review/reflection applies irrespective of the substantive WIL experience. Preparation is needed for simulated WIL on campus just as it is needed for local and international professional placements and other variations of WIL. The work environment is different to the study environment and students need to be appropriately prepared for it.
Students need to be given opportunities to practice work-related skills, plan goals, and become familiar with workplace protocols and behaviours before their WIL experience. Post-experience they need to be given opportunities to reflect on it, explore the connection between theory and practice and evaluate their own performance.
The University’s Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Procedures outline the core requirements for pre-experience preparation, academic supervision during the WIL experience and opportunities for students to reflect and debrief after the experience.
Graduate qualities and attributes identify additional aspects of ‘graduateness’ beyond command of discipline content and skills. They are commonly associated with employment skills and the idea of employability. Graduate qualities can enable our graduates to be good citizens as well as effective employees. Teamwork, communication skills, information and technological literacy, and valuing ethical behaviour, while all important to careers are also relevant beyond work.
Opportunities to prepare for future careers can range from WIL experiences and authentic assessment tasks through to guest lectures by people from industry and engaging industry in assessment processes to help students calibrate performance against industry standards. Collaboration with Careers and Employability Services to develop learning opportunities during a course can help build meaningful experiences for students. For example, providing targeted career support to develop a portfolio or curriculum vitae can occur over the life cycle of a degree programme not just in the final weeks.
Assessment can be a key aspect of this development but needs to be effectively designed and implemented (Schultz et al., 2017). In chemistry for example Schultz et al. (2017) found that while both teamwork and communication form part of chemistry threshold learning outcomes, few assessment tasks explicitly address and provide credit for them. Deliberate design is needed to effectively embed career preparation into courses.
For some disciplines being connected to and reflective of the industry discipline is relatively straight forward (e.g. nursing, medicine and other health professions link to the health sector with its structures, protocols and guidelines for professional registration). For others there can be greater challenges as Manwaring, Holloway and Coffey (2019) discuss in relation to public policy: the ‘industry’ includes government, non-for-profit organizations and commentators – often with different interpretations of the role of the discipline and practitioners in and across it. Academics in the field have a responsibility not to just echo existing views but also to challenge and critique them and present alternatives.
As Manwaring and his colleagues note careful consideration needs to be given to who to connect to and engage with, what sorts of engagement should be involved – ongoing, episodic or one-off – and what to engage on. The focus of connections/engagement needs to carefully balance domain specific, process specific, and systemic skills within the discipline as well as generic skills applied within the discipline. Students also need to be given the skills to be (critically) reflective on as well as (practically) reflective of current thinking and practice.
Billett, S 2011 Curriculum and pedagogic bases for effectively integrating practice-based experiences: Final Report, ALTC Strawberry Hills.
Kaider, F, Hains-Wesson, R, & Young, K 2017, Practical typology of authentic work-integrated learning activities and assessment, Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education 18,2, 153-65.
Manwaring R, Holloway, J & Coffey, B 2019 Engaging industry in curriculum design and delivery in public policy teaching: a strategic framework, Teaching Public Administration.
Thompson, J, Houston, D, Dansie, K, Rayner, T, Pointon, T, Pope, S, Cayetano, A, Mitchell, B & Grantham, H 2017 Student & tutor consensus: a partnership in assessment for learning, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:6, 942-952.
Sachs, J, Rowe, A & Wilson, M 2016 Good practice report – Work Integrated Learning, Department of Education and Training, Canberra.
Schultz, M, O’Brien, G, Schmid, S, Lawrie, G, Southam, D, Priest S, Lim, K, Pyke, S, Bedford, S & Jamie, I 2018 Improving assessment of transferable skills in Chemistry through evaluation of current practice In Schultz, Madeleine, Schmid, Siegbert and Lawrie, Gwendolyn A. (ed), Research and practice in chemistry education, Springer, Singapore, pp.255-274.
Villarroel, V, Bloxham, S, Bruna, D, Bruna, C & Herrera-Seda, C 2018 Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43,5,840-55.
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