Authentic and Alternative Assessments: A FLO MicroCourse Recap

Our FLO suite of MicroCourses designed to prepare educators for fall continued with July’s session, which addressed the timely topic of alternative and authentic assessments. This offering drew 65 participants, from institutions in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Michigan, and as far away as Toyko (Japan), and Hyderabad (India)!

Post by Olaolu Adeleye, advisor, Learning & Teaching at BCcampus

Facilitated by Dr. Nicki Rehn, learning transformation specialist at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, along with me, this session’s big ideas were designing with inTent (yes, spelled this way on purpose), Transparency, and Trust. Woven into each of the topics discussed was the importance of building assessment that prioritizes the learning-zone stage where “magic” occurs for learners. 

Over five asynchronous sessions, the course touched on starting with a why, prioritizing outcomes, multiple-choice tests, exploring alternatives, and feedback and learning. These were capped off by two highly engaging synchronous sessions: designing assessment that leads to learning, not just testing, and cheating and academic integrity online.You can watch both of these recorded sessions by clicking on the links at the end of this post.

Throughout the week participants shared a myriad of perspectives on the following:

  • Authentic and alternative terminology: Questioning who decides what an alternative form of assessment is
  • Quizzing as learning: Using quizzes as a tool for formative assessment rather than just for testing
  • Getting buy-in: Showing care for learners while giving them agency in the assessment process

Friday’s provocative session on cheating and academic integrity was typified by a quote from Dr. Rehn: “Beating cheating is actually about promoting academic integrity.”

Dr. Rehn saw that the participants showed a real desire to design assessments that serve students’ needs and student learning and to understand the importance and power of their feedback. Dr. Rehn pointed out that culture and family values play a huge part in how assessment and achievement is perceived and understood. I echoed this sentiment and highlighted that culture also includes socioeconomic status, discipline, and work environment.

The course was underpinned by two questions posed early in the week that are a good point of reflection for all facilitators as they consider their own assessment design:

  • How have you used assessment to promote learning?
  • What design decisions ensure students are in the learning zone, not the performance zone?

Participants contributed to a collaborative Padlet that has become a repository of useful resources

If you missed this session, we will host a repeat offering of this FLO session in early 2022!

Recorded sessions:

Learn more:

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by cottonbro from Pexels