Authentic Assessment as a Tool to Enhance Students Learning in a Higher Education Institution in Ethiopia: Implications for Students’ Competency

Year: 2019

Author: Sewagegn, Abatihun, Daile, Boitumelo

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Authentic assessment plays a great role to enhance students learning and makes them competent in their study area. Studies indicate that assessment is authentic when the tasks have real-life value and students perform in real-world tasks (Mueller, 2005; Fook and Sidhu, 2010). Authentic assessment is important in enhancing the students learning and have a positive impact on their current and future performance. However, many higher education institutions still rely more on the traditional forms of assessment methods (Banta and Palomba, 2015) which have no significant contribution to assess the overall understanding of students (Spendlove, 2018). Cody (2008) in his/her study noted that, currently teachers in higher institutions commonly use paper and pencil tests and they are “teaching to the test” and this does not adequately prepare them for life outside of school. However, use of authentic assessment techniques such as group and individual assignments, projects, peer and self-assessment, portfolio, etc… have valuable and positive effect to make the students competent and good to know their real performance. The theoretical framework used in this study is constructivism. The purpose of the study was to investigate how lecturers practice authentic assessment to enhance students learning in a higher education institution. To achieve this purpose, we used a phenomenological qualitative research design. Semi-structured interview was used to collect data. A total of six participants (three head of departments and three lecturers) were chosen from the three randomly selected colleges/faculties (social science and humanities, technology and health science) in a university. The data were analysed thematically. 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. The practice of authentic assessment methods as a tool to enhance students’ learning is limited. Using only traditional assessment methods (paper and pencil tests), lecturers cannot help their students to become competent because no clear indication of their different skills or abilities can be obtained by these means. Therefore, the use of authentic assessment with a mix of traditional assessment should be practiced in the university in general to enhance the students learning and make them competent in the real world of work. In conclusion, enhancing students learning using authentic assessment in their study areas is untenable if the lecturers continue to utilise their current assessment practices.