Empowering Students using Authentic Assessment at a University in Ethiopia: Implication on Students’ Competency

Year: 2018

Author: Sewagegn, Abatihun, Diale, Boitumelo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Authentic assessment plays a great role to empower students in their learning in particular and in their field of study in general. Authentic assessment includes a variety of techniques such as written products, self-assessment, peer-assessment, group-assessment, portfolio assessment, group projects etc… (Olfos & Zulanta, 2007), these techniques will have their own contribution to make the students creative and proficient in their learning. Studies indicated that assessment is seen to be authentic when the tasks have real-life value and students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of knowledge and skills. Therefore, this study was guided by the theory of constructivism as a theoretical framework. Constructivists argue that assessment should be continual, collaborative, and embedded in real-world tasks (Bell & Cowie, 2001; Shepard, 2000). The appropriate form assessment in the measurement of real-world tasks is an authentic assessment. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate how lecturers empower students of higher learning institutions using authentic assessment. In order to achieve this purpose, a qualitative research design specifically phenomenological research with an existential design was used to conduct the study.  Three head of departments and three lecturers were chosen for interviews from the six colleges of the university. The data were analysed qualitatively using themes and word descriptions. The result of the study indicated that lecturers are very much dependent upon traditional assessment methods which have no significant contribution to the competency of students. Moreover, lecturers face challenges (such as large class sizes,  high workloads, poor student-achievement levels, insufficient resources, lack of awareness and commitment on the use of different assessment methods) in the attempts to employ authentic assessment methods. Therefore, it can conclude that empowering students using authentic assessment in their study areas is untenable if the lecturers continue to utilise their current assessment practices and the challenges they face are not resolved. Hence, lecturers in higher learning institutions have to use authentic assessment techniques to empower students in their learning and to make them competent in their study area. In addition, the university and ministry of education should find possible mechanisms for the problems that interfere in the proper use of authentic assessment.